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Episode 4

Afternoon on 3, Baroque Spring Episode 4 of 5

2 hours, 30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 21 March 2013

Penny Gore presents Vivaldi's masterful oratorio Juditha Triumphans devicta Holofernis barbarie, written for performance by the orphans of the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice

The story of Judith and her victory on the invading Holofernes was an allegory of Venice defeating the invading Turks in Corfu: the Assyrian king Nebuchadnezzar sends an army against Israel to demand overdue tributes. Under the leadership of the general Holofernes, the Assyrians lay siege to the town of Bethulia and are about to conquer it. The young Jewish widow Judith goes to him to implore mercy. He falls in love with her and she indulges him. After a rich banquet and having drunk much wine, Holofernes falls asleep. Judith beheads him, flees the enemy camp, and returns victorious to Bethulia.

Holofernes, Assyrian General... Delphine Galou (contralto),
Juditha, a young Bethulian widow..... José Maria Lo Monaco (mezzo-soprano),
Vagaus, eunuch, Holofernes's squire...... Vivica Genaux (mezzo-soprano),
Abra, Juditha's handmaid..... Maria Hinojosa Montenegro (soprano),
Ozias, high priest of Bethulia..... Alessandra Visentin (contralto),
Assyrian soldiers and Bethulian women...... Capella Cracoviensis Vocal Ensemble,
Accademia Bizantina, Ottavio Dantone (harpsichord and director)
[recorded at the Misteria Paschalia Festival, Krakow in April 2012]

Based on the the Book of Judith, Vivaldi's Judith triumphant over the barbarians of Holofernes was commissioned to celebrate the victory of the Republic of Venice over the Turks during the siege of Corfu in July 1716 and in this, his sole surviving oratorio, Vivaldi certainly rose to the occasion: the orchestra deploys an extraordinary panoply of exotica including timpani, 2 trumpets, mandolin, four theorbos, five violas all'inglese (viola da gamba), a viola d'amore, two recorders and two soprano chalumeaux, the latter depicting the chirping turtle doves.

Music Played

2 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Image for Antonio Vivaldi

    Antonio Vivaldi Juditha Triumphans devicta Holofernis barbarie, RV 644, Part 1

  • Image for Antonio Vivaldi

    Antonio Vivaldi Juditha Triumphans devicta Holofernis barbarie, RV, Part 2



  1. Image for Radio 3 Opera Guides

    Radio 3 Opera Guides

    Radio 3 Guide to the Opera

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