Dutch National Opera presents
This performance contains stroboscopic/flash effects
Between hope and fear
Georg Friedrich Händel
Oratorio in Three Acts
Libretto by Thomas Morell
World premiere 26 February 1752, Covent Garden Theatre, London
Premiere 9 november 2016
Co-production with Opéra national de Paris
Jephtha tells the biblical story of a commander-in-chief who had to sacrifice his daughter because of a rash promise he made to God. In the version by Händel’s librettist Thomas Morell, an angel comes between them at the last moment and the daughter’s life is spared.
Although originally intended for concertante performances, Jephtha’s drama and strong emotions make it ideal for the stage. It contains a great wealth of arias and choruses, such as Jephtha’s serene ‘Waft her, angels’, when he is reconciled to his fate, and 'How dark, O Lord, are thy decrees!’, with which the Israelites respond to Jephtha’s final decision to kill Iphis. It is one of Händel’s most moving, intense choral pieces. Cruelly, he had to temporarily stop composing at exactly this point because of the problems with his eyesight.
The personal circumstances in which this wonderful work was created were tragic. As Händel’s eyesight started to fail rapidly, the composer found it extremely difficult to create the work. A couple of years later, Händel was completely blind.
In a parable, director Claus Guth (previous productions: Un ballo in maschera, Don Giovanni) tells the ancient story of a loser who cannot escape the ill-fated cycle of his life. After being cast out, Jephtha gets the chance to return to his community, but then he takes the wrong decision. Hope alternates with fear.
Ivor Bolton is appearing for the second time this season, after Le nozze di Figaro; this time as musical director of the Baroque orchestra Concerto Köln (performances with Dutch National Opera: Samson, Ercole amante, Deidamia and Ariodante).
Co-produced with Opéra National de Paris
Claus GuthStage director
CLAUS GUTH (director) studied in Munich. He made his international breakthrough in 1999 with the world premiere of Luciano Berio’s Cronaca del Luogo (Salzburger Festspiele) and subsequently returned to the festival with Iphigénie en Tauride, Zaide and a Mozart/Da Ponte series.
IVOR BOLTON (musical director) had great success for many years as a harpsichord player, before making the transition to conducting.
Team, Cast and Chorus
- Ivor Bolton
- Stage Director
- Claus Guth
- Set & Costume Designer
- Katrin Lea Tag
- Lighting Designer
- Bernd Purkrabek
- Video Designer
- Arian Andiel
- Sommer Ulrickson
- Yvonne Gebauer
- Concerto Köln
- Dutch National Opera Chorus
- Chorus Master
- Ching-Lien Wu
- Richard Croft
- Wiebke Lehmkuhl
- Anna Prohaska
- Bejun Mehta
- Florian Boesch
- Ana Quintans
Bejun Mehta (Hamor) is one of the most sought-after countertenors in the world. He performs in opera houses and festivals like the Royal Opera House, ROH Covent Garden, Theater an der Wien, Opéra Nationale de Paris, Staatsoper Berlin, Metropolitan Opera, Salzburger Festspiele and Glyndebourne Opera Festival. In 2015, he sang the world premiere of George Benjamin’s Dream of the Song, commissioned by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. DNO productions: L’incoronazione di Poppea, Tamerlano, Don Chisciotte in Sierra Morena and Written on Skin.
Concerto Köln, founded in 1985, is one of the best orchestras specialising in historic performance practice. The ensemble often performs without a conductor. With a larger group of instruments, Concerto Köln also works with conductors like Kent Nagano, René Jacobs and Marcus Creed, besides Ivor Bolton, and with soloists like Cecilia Bartoli, Simone Kermes, Philippe Jaroussky and Christoph Prégardien
SIGNING SESSION WITH Florian Boesch and Richard Croft
On Sunday 27 November, after the performance of Jephtha, the soloists Florian Boesch (Zebul) and Richard Croft (Jephtha) will be at the shop to sign your purchases. This signing session is only for people with tickets for the matinee performance!
"With spare but potent imagery and cogent storytelling, Guth works up to the harrowing climax, a clinically choreographed ritual sacrifice, and the unhappy ending." "Mehta sang breathtakingly, pouring out caramel swirls of coloratura."
‘In the pit, conducted by Ivor Bolton, Concerto Köln give us Händel of the very highest standard’. (Trouw about Deidamia, 2012)
Claus Guth has indeed created a masterpiece. Without doubt the best staging of Don Giovanni I have yet seen.