Tom Service talks to Handel scholar Winton Dean about his in-depth study of Handel's last 20 operas, and investigates the challenge of staging and performing Handel's operas in the world's great opera houses with guests including Sir Peter Jonas, Sir Charles Mackerras and Sarah Connolly.
Plus American conductor Michael Tilson Thomas on what drives his work with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and his passion for education.
In this programme
Michael Tilson Thomas
American conductor Michael Tilson Thomas has been the Music Director of San Francisco Symphony since 1995 and since then has transformed their repertoire and their relationship with the city. Their presence in San Francisco is now not just in the concert hall, but in schools, online, and in the community.
Tom met up with MTT in London where he's conducting Mahler as the Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. He asked MTT about his work as a passionate communicator as well as performer, and his mission to restore the place of classical music within American culture.
Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the LSO at the Barbican in a performance of Mahler's 2nd Symphony, "Resurrection", on 11th March @ 7.30pm.
Winton Dean's passion for Handel's operas has spanned the latter part of the 20th Century and has culminated in the publication of the second volume of his epic survey of these works. When he first discovered this music, it was hardly known and rarely performed. In Dean's lifetime, Handel has found his place on the world's operatic stages again - almost 300 years after the works were first heard. Tom visited Dean in his Surrey home to ask him about his remarkable relationship with Handel's music which goes back 70 years.
So, how do opera directors and performers today bring Handel's characters and dramas to life? Tom goes on a personal journey to find out how a new generation of Handel enthusiasts are meeting the challenge of presenting endless da capo arias and making them meaningful for audiences today. Conductor Sir Charles Mackerras, Director David McVicar, Impresario Sir Peter Jonas, writer and scholar Tim Carter and mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, all share their thoughts on realising the power of Handel's remarkable operas.
Winton Dean: Handel's Operas, Pub. Boydell & Brewer. h/b £49.95.
English National Opera's Agrippina will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 12th May in Opera on 3.
Sir Charles Mackerras conducts the final performance of Handel's Orlando at the Royal Opera House on 13th March.
The 30thLondon Handel Festival runs from 20th March - 26th April.
The American philanthropist, John Studzinski, is dedicated to the cause of energising contemporary opera. Having set up the Genesis Foundation, he established the Genesis prizes for new opera a few years ago, and now the scheme has developed into a programme at the Royal Opera House which runs workshops for composers and librettists. Through the Opera Genesis project, Studzinski aims to create a fertile ground for the creation of new operas. Tom asks 'Studs', as he likes to be known, what motivates him as both philanthropist and opera lover.