20 Mar 2023

Arcangelo performs and records Handel’s ‘Theodora’

Five years in preparation, the most significant artistic project in Arcangelo’s history is about to get under way.

Louise Alder sings the title role of Theodora for Arcangelo’s forthcoming concerts and studio recording . Image (c) Gerard Collett.

First published 20 March 2023

Rehearsals get under way this weekend for the most significant artistic project in Arcangelo’s history: two concert performances and a new studio recording of Handel’s ‘Theodora’.

The sublime work was supposedly Handel’s favourite of his own oratorios, but struggled to win favour with contemporary audiences. Handel himself wondered whether the subject matter was not overly virtuous for audience tastes – but London in 1750 was also in the grip of a strange episode of ‘earthquake panic’, with a succession of tremors seeing many moneyed citizens leaving the town and its entertainments.

Glyndebourne’s celebrated 1996 production was a landmark in Theodora’s modern reappraisal – as was Arcangelo’s BBC Proms premiere concert performance in 2018. Following a further critically-acclaimed performance at the Vienna Konzerthaus in 2020, Arcangelo is delighted to give two new concert performances in 2023, including our long-awaited Barbican venue debut and a return to De Singel in Antwerp.

Following the concerts, Arcangelo will make the first new studio recording of Theodora in almost a quarter of a century. A mammoth undertaking involving over 40 hours of recording across 14 sessions, the recording is being funded by a £100,000 appeal which is within sight of its target.

The cast for concerts and recording is led by soprano Louise Alder in the title role, continuing her proud association with Arcangelo’s interpretation and presentation of Theodora which began in 2018. Counter-tenor Tim Mead (Didymus) and Mezzo-soprano Anna Stéphany (Irene) are also set to resume their collaboration with Arcangelo in this work, while tenor Stuart Jackson (Septimius) and bass-baritone Adam Plachetka (Valens) join the cast for the first time.

Arcangelo Artistic Director Jonathan Cohen said:

“I am very happy to return to this great and sublime Handelian work in the company of these marvellous artists and musicians. Theodora contains some of Handel’s most exquisite music, and the five years we have spent performing and preparing it have only increased our admiration, and excitement. I hope that many people will come and share in the live performances, and am grateful to everyone whose kind support has ensured that our recording project can go ahead.”

Concert tickets

Concert tickets for Arcangelo’s performances of ‘Theodora’ at Barbican Centre on Wednesday 29 March and at De Singe Antwerp on Thursday 30 March are on sale now.

Support the recording

Arcangelo’s new studio recording of ‘Theodora’ is being supported by a £100,000 public fundraising appeal which is currently at 92% of its target. Project donors receive exclusive benefits, including membership of the Arcangelo Friends Scheme.