Georg Frideric Handel
Oratorio in Three Parts HWV 63 | B’Rock | Bart Naessens
Music by Georg Frideric Handel
Libretto by Thomas Morell
Pretender to the throne Charles Edward from the House of Stuart reached the British Isles in August 1745 and within a few weeks conquered a major part of Scotland. He advanced closer and closer towards the English capital; the troops under the Duke of Cumberland were able to hinder the descendant of King James II in his progress but could not stop him. Only after months of fighting could Charles Edward be completely thrust back and vanquished. Sighs of relief in London.
George Frideric Handel had at this time got into financial difficulties and even prior to this had turned away from the Italian opera and towards the English-language oratorio; he used the upheavals of the Jacobean rebellion to pander to the favour of King George II with several politically motivated works. In Judas Maccabaeus he and his librettist Thomas Morell chose a Biblical source as their theme, the struggles and victories of the Israelites – references to the current situation were unmistakeable, freedom fighter Judas could be directly associated with the English king, and the songs of jubilation at the end of the oratorio also celebrated the victory just won.
Judas Maccabaeus was performed around fifty times even during Handel’s lifetime. The top-class singer ensemble surrounding Benjamin Hulett as Judas proves that together with the Orchestra B’Rock under Bart Naessens the oratorio has become an established part of the repertoire and long ago shook off the motive for its creation; it still counts as one of the most momentous examples of the genre in the history of music.
We thank the Region of Flanders for their generous support of this concert.