Donald Macleod presents music from the early part of Handel's career in Italy where he cut his teeth as an opera composer.
Donald Macleod looks at the life and music of this German-born composer who arrived in Georgian London just as the craze for Italian opera was taking hold, producing a series of masterpieces which made him the talk of the town. And as its popularity subsided, Handel re-invented himself as a composer of English oratorio, many of which continue to be the staple fare of choral societies throughout the country.
Over the course of his long career he had to contend with all kinds of challenges as he negotiated his way through the opera world, with its temperamental singers, rival composers and squabbling management, producing music not only to please the paying public but also, when required, to mark the births, deaths and marriages of a dysfunctional royal family. Donald investigates the effect all these colourful individuals had on Handel's life and music, not forgetting those who collaborated with him on his oratorios in the second half of his career, one of the most important being Charles Jennens, who provided the words for the best loved of all Handel's music, Messiah.
Today he turns his attention to the time Handel spent in Italy where he cut his teeth as an opera composer and found support and inspiration from important figures such as the diplomat and composer whose miniature cantatas influenced his own, and the cardinal who provided one of the best librettos Handel ever set.
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