Glasgow City Halls
The sacred Oratorio is a particular art-form, akin to a the dress rehearsal of an opera, with the lead singers up front, an orchestra about them, & the great phalanx of the chorus behind them. Each singer utilises a book & weaves their warbling sonars about the ever-wafting threads of the music. On Friday last the wonderful white world that is the main concert hall of the City Halls saw a performance of Handel’s Theodora, an exceptional piece of dramatic celestiality, brought to us by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, a classic piece in love & virtue that, although never popular, has always touched the souls of the few who have witnesses its wonders.
Between Handel’s music & libretto we are given the story of Theodora, a Christian martyr who broke Roman law by refusing to worship the emperor as a god. Didymus, a Roman officer, is falls in love with and is converted by Theodora. By the final Act both are facing death for their faith and disobedience. The piece is a wonder, especially for the vocal of Didymus, originally written for a castrato, played here by countertenor Iestyn Davies’ Didymus with an ethereal beauty. His timbre is warm and human, with a controlled melancholic grace that is simply breath-taking.
Perhaps in the final say, some aria performances felt over nuanced and words could not be heard distinctly, but the power with which they were sung transcends this lack of accessibility. This lilting and entrancing performance carries us to the final duet of soprano Stefanie True and countertenor Iestyn Davies when we are lifted to heaven alongside them in an uplifting, sublime crescendo.
Reviewers : Damo Bullen & Emily Oakman