Review: Hercules

Review of Oxford Opera’s ‘Hercules’, by Handel.

The Oxford Culture Review

Handel’s opera Hercules, composed in 1744, promises an evening of extreme catharsis. The drama focuses upon Hercules’s wife, Dejanira, as we follow her despair at his absence, joy at his homecoming, jealousy of the beautiful Iole, and guilt and self-loathing as she realises that through this misplaced jealousy she has unintentionally murdered her husband. Oxford Opera’s rendition, fully staged at St John the Evangelist church, managed this emotional rollercoaster with subtlety and flair whilst managing to bring a certain humour to the lighter moments.

All of the five soloists handled their parts sensitively, maintaining not only vocal but emotional balance throughout. David Le Provost’s appearance as Hercules was spectacular, bringing all the airs of arrogance and self-content needed to the role. His aria ‘Now farewell, arms!’ was a particular highlight, managing to appear inebriated whilst maintaining technical control of the semiquaver passages. His acting and vocal prowess was complemented…

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