Valer Barna-Sabadus (Serse), Torben Jürgens (Ariodate) | (c) Hans Jörg Michel
Georg Friedrich Händel
Opernhaus Düsseldorf
Saturday, 02. May 2015
19:00 - 22:30 hours

Duration: approx. 3 ½ hours, one interval
18,90 - 89,70 € Abo. 23
Duration: approx. 3 ½ hours, one interval
A genuine rush of theatrical enthusiasm gripped the audiences of the eight sold-out performances of Georg Friedrich Händel (1685–1759)’s ‘Xerxes’ at the beginning of 2013. Now he has returned, the lovestruck Persian King in the form of the phenomenal countertenor Valer Sabadus, to bring Stafan Herheim’s opulent production of ’Xerxes’ back to life once again along with a cast of prima donnas and rivals who sing and act no less brilliantly. A “baroque Muppet Show” is what the Norwegian director calls his stage spectacular which begins with Xerxes‘ famous aria “Ombra mai fu” and following a complex plot of love and intrigue ends with the insight that life is a theatre in which one cannot always choose one’s own role.

Xerxes – the name means “ruling over heroes”. Yet the power of the great Persian King and Egyptian Pharoah was severely curtailed after his defeat by the Greeks in the sea battle of Salamis in 480 B.C.. In Händel‘s opera Serse (this is the Italian form of his name) is nothing like a head of state. In the opening scene he is seen lying dreaming beneath a sycamore tree, where he surrenders to his emotions in the famous “Ombra mai fù”. As is usually the case in baroque operas, the warrior hero must not fight but instead falls in love with a woman he cannot have. The beautiful Romilda is faithful to his brother Arsamene and refuses the King her favours. For her sake he rejects the devoted Amastre, banishes Arsamene and negotiates a marriage with Romilda‘s father – and yet at the end he has no alternative but to return ruefully to Amastre, while Arsamene may finally be assured of his Romilda.

This is a wicked comedy, which Händel composed in 1738 as one of his last operatic works for the King’s Theatre Haymarket in London. Constantly on the edge of tragedy, the situations repeatedly lurch towards the comic because a lover cannot free himself of his jealous obsession, a father wrongly couples his daughter with the right suitor and His Majesty the King is ultimately exposed as a dissembler. The fact that Händel’s music not only supports this mutability but also brilliantly highlights it, irritated his contemporaries but would later give this opera pride of place in Händel’s operatic oeuvre.
Georg Friedrich Händel

Opera in three acts HWV 40
Libretto after Niccolò Minato and Silvio Stampiglia

A co-production with the Komische Oper Berlin

In German

Musikalische Leitung Konrad Junghänel
Inszenierung Stefan Herheim
Bühne Heike Scheele
Kostüme Gesine Völlm
Licht Franck Evin
Chorleitung Christoph Kurig
Dramaturgie Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach
Serse Valer Sabadus
Arsamene Terry Wey
Amastre Laura Nykänen
Ariodate Torben Jürgens
Romilda Heidi Elisabeth Meier
Atalanta Anke Krabbe
Elviro Hagen Matzeit
Chor Chor der Deutschen Oper am Rhein
Orchester Neue Düsseldorfer Hofmusik


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