DCS event: "Handel in Italy" with the Academy of Ancient Music

Saturday 13th June 2013 Return to Alumni Events

A good Thursday evening turnout of 14 of the 15 tickets offered to DCS were sold for the Academy of Ancient Music's evening of music with the theme of Handel in Italy and was enormously enjoyed at West Road Concert Hall. The evening started at 6.30p.m. with an illuminating and witty talk by Richard Egarr, the director and harpsichord player, which set the scene for the later music very well. Sadly some of our party missed the thirty minute talk as roadworks had choked parts of Cambridge with rush-hour traffic. However all our party arrived in time for the private wine reception preceding the musical part of the evening and by this time we were observing that many usual attendees of D.C.S. events were present as season ticket holders, swelling the apparent Darwin group.


The A.A.M. players prepare

The concert started with a piece written by Handel in 1707, a year after his arrival in Rome, and was written for one of his patrons, Marquis Ruspoli. The piece was the cantata Diana Cacciatrice, written about Diana the huntress, a strong character who urged others to put the hunt before love! The singer was Lucy Crowe, a soprano who we read, was about to be Susanna in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at the Royal Opera House. It was obviously a good night to attend West Road. This set the seal on a really good first period as it was followed by Domenico Scarletti's Sinfonia in G major, a composer who both influenced and competed with Handel, then Concerto Grosso op.6 No 9 in F major by Corelli, foremost of the musicians in Handel's circle, and it finished with part of Sonata à Quatro by Alessandro Scarlatti who was father of Domenico and hugely influential in Italian music of the time.

The interval arrived and once more we were guests of the A.A.M. with wine and soft drinks provided. The second part of the programme was Clori, Tirsi e Fileno by Handel also dedicated to Marquis Ruspoli. This was a longer piece taking up all of the second part of the concert. The piece was written as dialogues between a shepherdess (Clori) and 2 shepherds (Tirsi and Fileno), who competed with each other to marry Clori. She conversely did not seem to want to marry either but played each off against the other. The strange aspect for modern audiences was that the two shepherd's roles were sung by Sophie Junker, a soprano, and Charlotte Hellekant, a mezzo-soprano whilst Lucy Crowe sung the role of Clori. Those of us who attended the pre-concert talk were pre-warned that having 3 sopranos was fashionable in Italy at that time but, just to help the audience, the shepherds did wear trousers albeit very fashionable feminine ones.

The final enthusiastic rounds of applause and delighted comments was evidence that we had attended a special concert and we are indebted to Oriel Williams who arranged our block of tickets and our reception.

Picture by Terry Moore(Click on the picture for larger a versions)

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