G. F. Handel’s Ode “Alexander’s Feast” at the LNOBT: Celebration of Music and Fashion

A summery feast in the royal palace: fireworks light the sky in perfect tune with solemn music, ladies and gentleman in gorgeous costumes created by the tailors of the palace are watching a spectacle that revives Alexander the Great, the beautiful Thais and master of music Timotheus from Thebes…

The spellbinding festive atmosphere shall be brought to life in Vilnius on 20 and 21 June with Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre’s summer premiere of George Frideric Handel’s “Alexander’s Feast”. The project is a co-production between the LNOBT, Palace of Arts (Budapest) and “Vilnius Festivals”, and shall conclude the programme of the prestigious 18th Vilnius Festival.

“Alexander’s Feast” is one of the most popular works by baroque genius G. F. Handel (1685-1759), however, the current production will be its first performance in Lithuania. Although such creations as “Water Music”, “The Music of the Royal Fireworks” or “Messiah” are well known to the public, due to performance requirements G. F. Handel’s music is a rare guest in our country.  

The staging of “Alexander’s Feast” brought together an exceptionally professional international creative team. It includes music director and conductor Rolf Beck (Germany), known to Lithuanian theatregoers from Robert Wilson’s staging of “Johannespassion” at the LNOBT, visionary Hungarian theatre director Kaél Csába, whose concept shall allow an incredible flight of fantasy from costume designer and Lithuanian fashion guru Juozas Statkevičius. Set designer Éva Szendrényi and video designer Demeter Lóránt (Hungary) shall perform brave experiments with time and space that surpass the boundaries of traditional theatre. 

The gracefully beautiful music of Handel is always demanding specific knowledge and skill of its performers, and thus the Vilnius’ team of singers in “Alexander’s Feast” consists of Lithuanian and foreign masters of baroque. The roles are being prepared by mezzo-sopranos Catriona Morison (UK) and Nora Petročenko (the role of Thais), sopranos Sophie Gordeladze (Austria) and Diana Tiškovaitė (Thais’ friend), tenors Thomas Walker (UK) and Kęstutis Alčauskis (Timotheus) and bass Tadas Girininkas (Alexander the Great). They shall be accompanied by LNOBT’s orchestra, Igor Davidovics (solo lute, Hungary), Vaiva Eidukaitytė-Storastienė (harpsichord). The second conductor of the production is Vytautas Lukočius, and the impressive choral parts of the ode shall be performed by LNOBT’s chorus (chorus master Česlovas Radžiūnas).      

“Alexander’s Feast” was written by G. F. Handel in 1736 with a libretto by Newburgh Hamilton. The libretto, in turn, was created after John Dryden’s ode “Alexander’s Feast, or the Power of Music”, dedicated to the celebration of St. Cecilia, the patroness of musicians. Handel-Hamilton’s ode premiered on 19 February, 1736 at the theatre of Covent Garden in London and immediately became very popular. During G. F. Handel’s lifetime “Alexander’s Feast” was performed 54 times, usually to mark different holidays. It was conducted by the composer himself 28 times.  

2014 05 27