This oratorio marks an important milestone in Handel’s personal history as well as the evolution of his musical language. He composed Saul right after the opera Serse in 1739. Handel was inspired by a text with well-rounded characters and dramatic effects to great powerful music. The story of Saul focuses on the first king of Israel’s relationship with his eventual successor, David as well as David’s relationship with Merab, and Michal, daughters of Saul but also Saul’s friendship with Jonathan and the war between Philistines and Hebrews. Remarkable arias are: David’s «Oh Lord, whose mercies numberless», Jonathan’s «Sin not, o King» or Merab’s vigorous aria «My soul rejects the thought». The most remarkable part of the oratorio is the intensely dramatic scene when Saul asks the Witch of Endor to raise the ghost of Samuel the prophet in the powerful recitative “Wretch that I am!”.
After Handel's sumptuous Samson under the inspired direction of Leonardo García Alarcón that we proposed in 2018, here is another remarkable oratorio with a further impressive 80 musicians and singers.
A true force of nature, Handel has always been able to tell stories and describe passions with music that is tremendously eloquent and sensual. His verve triumphed in a few dramatic oratorios populated by colourful characters and impressive choral masses. Come and (re)discover him in Saül, one of the greatest successes of his career as a composer.
Saul belongs to Handel's most dramatic oratorios. In this work, as in no other, the proximity to the opera of the time is remarkable. The score requires a very colourful orchestra: in addition to the classical distribution of an opera orchestra, trombones, harp, solo organ, glockenspiel and large timpani are required. The choir is the main actor in the drama, sometimes also taking on the role of the commentator, as in the Greek tragedy.
David defeated Goliath and the Philistines, winning the admiration of the people and the jealousy of King Saul. Jonathan, the King's son, declares his faithful friendship with the hero. But his father ordered him to kill him.
Christian Immler (bass - Saul, Samuel),
Samuel Boden (tenor - Jonathan),
Lawrence Zazzo (countertenor - David),
Katherine Watson (soprano - Merab),
Ruby Hughes (soprano - Michal)
Basilique Notre-Dame, Beaune (FR)