Hercules, Haendel – Opera

William Christie, Luc Bondy – With William Shimell (Hercules) and Joyce DiDonato (Dejanira) – Opéra national de Paris

William Christie, the master of Baroque music, and stage producer Luc Bondy join forces in Paris to give Handel's masterwork a new lease of life.

Handel was an international musician. After his education in Germany, Haendel travelled for 3 years in Italy, where he learned the codes of the opera seria and established personal contacts with the most important singers and composers of his generation. Handel eventually settled in England, acclaimed by an enthusiastic public. This itinerant life explains partly Haendel's musical genius. A perfect acquaintance with the different musical languages across Europe enabled Haendel to carry out a style synthesis, combining the melodic invention of the Italian music, the contrapuntal rigor of the German tradition and the splendor of the French court music.

Inspired by the ninth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, Hercules is one of the latest works composed by Haendel. Though premiered in 1745, Hercules is no less fascinating for the modern audience. The version of this masterpiece conducted by William Christie (leading his famous ensemble Les Arts Florissants) and directed for stage by Luc Bondy puts to the fore the intensity of the plot with brio and subtlety.

Hercules by Haendel: the story.

Dejanira, Hercules' wife, moans over her husband's presumed death. However, Hercules eventually comes back from his conquests, accompanied by a slave named Iole. Struck by the beauty of the young woman, Dejanira suspects Hercules to have fallen under Iole's spell. Mad with jealousy, Dejanira decides to take her revenge, and poisons a ceremonial garment worn by Hercules during a victory celebration. Hercules, the undefeated hero, eventually dies from a poisoning plotted by his spouse.

Picture: © Eric Mahoudeau.

Luc Bondy stage director
Richard Peduzzi set designer
Rudy Sabounghi costumes
Dominique Bruguière lightings


Ingela Bohlin (Iole)
Joyce DiDonato (Dejanira)
Malena Ernman (Lichas)
Simon Kirkbride (Jupiter's Priest)
William Shimell (Hercules)
Toby Spence (Hyllus)


Les Arts Florissants
William Christie musical direction
François Bazola chorus director

Movie director : Vincent Bataillon
Playlist : Opéra national de Paris special
Musical period : Baroque music
Music genre : Voice

Duration : 03 h 09 min
Location : Palais Garnier (Paris, France)
Production date : 2004
Production : © Bel Air Media – Opéra de Paris – SEF Munich
Available version(s) : EN ST FR



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