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Theodora - The World Have Ears And Hear Not
Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Curtis Daily & Amelia (his baroque bass), 41st Avenue Vancouver


One of Handel's most loyal and enthusiastic supporters, Mary Delany, wrote to her sister Ann saying "Don't you remember our snug enjoyment of "Theodora?" Her sister replied "Surely "Theodora" will have justice at last, if it was to be again performed, but the generality of the world have ears and hear not".



A nasty Roman emperor tells a Christian virgin that unless she renounces her faith she will be executed horribly. He further tells her Roman soldier companion the same thing.  They both refuse and die together.
A nasty Roman prefect tells a Christian virgin that unless she renounces her false Christian god she will be sent to a brothel. She refuses. While men lick their lips deciding who will be first, a Roman soldier comes to the rescue. The Christian virgin dresses in his clothes and he in hers. He is caught. Both decide to die together.

These similar plots are centuries apart. The former, from the 1942 novel The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas became the basis for the first ever, 1953, Cinemascope film The Robe, with Gene Simmons and Richard Burton and the wonderfully horrific and cruel Caligula played by Jay Robinson. I saw this film with my parents in Buenos Aires in 1953. The inspiration for the book came from the question, “What happened to the soldier who at Christ’s crucifixion won His clothes (the very red robe) in a game?
The latter plot written by librettist Thomas Morell for Handel’s oratorio Theodora  which was performed for the first time at Covent Garden in 1750.
In my personal obsession to find links the only one I could find was an ecclesiastical on. Thomas Morell was a Garrison Chaplain at Portsmouth barracks in 1775 and Lloyd C. Douglas was a minister. Interesting for those who are Early Music Vancouver and Pacific Baroque Orchestra fans is the fact that Morell wrote the libretto for the August, 7, 2014 performance (an EMV production with the PBO) of Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo (1707).

Former Artistic Director of Early Music Vanocouver (now – Artistic Director Emeritus Early Music Vancouver) the Birkenstock man from Curaçao has this to say of Handel’s Messiah when I asked him to answer the question, “Why Bach?”

 Let me step on some toes with this one. Here goes: The simple answer is, "Bach? Of course!" My background in the European tradition that focuses on Bach rather than the Messiah around Christmas and Easter still has an impact. The powerful Mengelberg tradition of the Matthew Passion with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, for example ("early music" of a different kind!) kept people huddled around the radio on Palm Sunday, and the streets were deserted. Not to offend anyone; there's of course nothing wrong with Messiah — but personally I would rather sit through the Passions or the Christmas Oratorio on hard pews in a cold church (as I have done many times) than hear another Messiah in a comfortable concert hall.

This brings us to my belief that the Oratorio Theodora is the intelligent (you may say sophisticated if you like) Handel work to like. It is rarely performed although Handel himself had a personal preference for it. Both Handel and Morell were ahead of their time with this oratorio that is sometimes performed as an opera. It was around the time of the French Revolution, 1789 that the so called “rescue operas” became popular. The trend culminated with Beethoven’s Fidelio.
In the picture illustrating this blog you can see baroque bassist (Portland Baroque Orchestra) Curtis Daily posing by the EMV poster on 41st Avenue. It features my English Rose Rosa ‘L.D. Braithwaite’ a red rose appropriate for the Valentine Day’s performance of Theodora.

Over lemon cake and tea, Daily told me that Theodora has an absolute killer aria in the first act. This means that unlike Messiah we do not have to wait until the end for the best.

Now for the bad news which are not so bad if you have a vivid imagination. In an oratorio the singers dress formally and in an opera version they would be in costume. This means that in Saturday’s Theodora you will have to imagine that Theodora at some point dresses as a man and Didymus, her manly saviour, as a woman. Consider that I was not able to find one single image of that cross dressing feat in all of Google!

A double double bass date

Curtis Daily

The violone player got extra pay



     

Previous Posts
My Feet Are An Endpin

We Could, We Did & We Regretted It

Frank's A Lot To Mac

Te Puede Matar Una Guitarra

The Supreme Court, The Corcoran & Arthur Erickson ...

The Triomphante Reeds Of The Cascadia Reed Quinte...

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir & Calabria Bakery Pizza

Onomata - Me & My Cello

A Mission In Africa Or On The Deck Of A Ship?

A Face As Round & Dull As A Norfolk Dumpling



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4/24/16 - 5/1/16

5/1/16 - 5/8/16

5/8/16 - 5/15/16

5/15/16 - 5/22/16

5/22/16 - 5/29/16

5/29/16 - 6/5/16

6/5/16 - 6/12/16

6/12/16 - 6/19/16

6/19/16 - 6/26/16

6/26/16 - 7/3/16

7/3/16 - 7/10/16

7/10/16 - 7/17/16

7/17/16 - 7/24/16

7/24/16 - 7/31/16

7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17

1/29/17 - 2/5/17

2/5/17 - 2/12/17

2/12/17 - 2/19/17

2/19/17 - 2/26/17

2/26/17 - 3/5/17

3/5/17 - 3/12/17

3/12/17 - 3/19/17

3/19/17 - 3/26/17

3/26/17 - 4/2/17

4/2/17 - 4/9/17

4/9/17 - 4/16/17

4/16/17 - 4/23/17

4/23/17 - 4/30/17

4/30/17 - 5/7/17

5/7/17 - 5/14/17

5/14/17 - 5/21/17

5/21/17 - 5/28/17

5/28/17 - 6/4/17

6/4/17 - 6/11/17

6/11/17 - 6/18/17

6/18/17 - 6/25/17

6/25/17 - 7/2/17