Thursday 4 March 2021

Opening Night: Handel's Rome


Dear Reader, on our collective journey on the flat plane around the Sun, now is the time when the Pisceans among us get to have their zodiacal moment. For Your Correspondent, being born thusly under the sign of the fishes, there was also the happy concurrence of the return to the stage, after a year of drumming of proverbial heels, of this household's favourite musical entertainers, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra & Choir. Tickets hastily purchased for for Opening Night for the 2021 Season meant both a pressie for yours truly was sorted, and the Pipistrellos went to our first live performance in a concert hall since, ahem, 2019!

Angel Place, the home of The ABO

As ever, a joyous and uplifting programme is on offer, and this launch concert, in the words of Artistic Director Paul Dyer, starts the season with a bang, a flourish of Baroque brass and all the fanfare of the Brandenburg Choir in full voice. A sort of Handel & Friends was the fare for us: these composers' near-concurrent time in Rome was to be celebrated, and we were to anticipate "vibrancy and verve, solace and solemnity and the radiance of hope". 

Early birds are we

And we got it in spades! First up was Arcangelo Corelli's Concerto Grosso in D major, Op. 6 No. 4 (whose twelve concerti grossi were published posthumously in 1714, but played in Rome as early as 1682). As Corelli himself would have arranged things, Paul Dyer augmented the strings with baroque trumpets and a sackbutt, so we started with a thrilling brassy march into Rome. 

Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello's Violin Concerto in C Major, Bre3 came next, where soloist and Concertmaster Shaun Lee-Chen had an opportunity to dazzle us with some energetic playing. Another of the Corelli Opus 6 concerti, No. 7, rounded us out to the interval, when we sat basking in the afterglow of the gorgeous and happy music, before we were treated to the rich and sumptuous acoustics when the choir joined us for George Frederic Handel's Dixit Dominus, HWV 232. 

Handel was aged a mere twenty-two when he composed this stunning commissioned work. Apparently this talented Lutheran ably rose to the challenge of churning out and performing new works for Catholic church services on an almost weekly basis whilst under the patronage of various cardinals during his time in Rome. The luscious Dixit Dominus was probably first performed for Easter Sunday in 1707, when I expect the congregation were as impressed and swept away as we were last week.

The choir's soloists sang like a dream, but a special call out has to be made for twenty-year-old alto soloist, Austin Haynes, above. A songbird, born for the stage; his aria Virgam virtutis was just glorious! 

2021 is looking up!

Image credits: 1-3: Flying With Hands; 4-6: Keith Saunders via Australian Brandenburg Orchestra facebook page


  1. Hello Pipistrello, What a fine reintroduction to concert going you found. Luckily I have lots of Handel and Corelli on my computer, but that hardly creates the excitement of a live performance. Since I am from Cleveland, quite a musical city, I miss these musical adventures.

  2. I have passed my Aquarian baton over to you Pisceans Pip ..... obviously birthday wishes are in order but you may not have had your birthday yet ! Lucky you to have been able to go to a live performance..... it sounded glorious. Nothing like that going on here for a while but maybe in the not too distant future. XXXX

  3. I see some masks there on the early arrivers. How lovely to go out on your birthday to a concert.

    The young alto has a his whole career ahead of him, how great to be singing at such a young age.

    Happy birthday! xx

  4. Jim: The speakers at home and even on our computers are so much better these days, but you're right, there's nothing like a being there! There was quite a bit of palpable excitement for the orchestra, as they are a national ensemble and were unable to get together to even rehearse for nearly a year owing to our state border closures, and missed having an audience, too.

    Jackie: Thank you and yes, birthday was Tuesday, but there's nought like a slow-motion celebration of our making another turning around the Sun. Going out will be back on the agenda for you, too, before long and all the performers will be brimming with pent-up energy! xx

    Rachel: Thank you, dear! Yes, well observed, masks were obligatory and tickets were limited to 75% capacity. There's also a contact tracing system in place where you have to electronically check-in to venues, which is second-nature now. That said, patrons were able to bring in their drinks from the bar, so we watched masks going up and down like fiddlers' elbows. xx

  5. Handel was amazing talented, and long lasting, even if he had been a mature composer when he wrote his music. Yet he was only 22! I still had to tell my sons to make their beds at 22 *sigh*.

  6. So, so jealous. We had tickets to some culture but all was canceled. We did get reimbursed but would rather have seen the shows.
    Who knew a concert would be a venue for eye-candy!
    You're a very good reviewer.
    BTW I see you have Christ Stopped at Eboli on your recent reading sidebar. How did you like it?

  7. Dear Pipistrello, the best Birthday wishes to you!
    And such a lovely beatic present - how very, very gorgeous!
    I am not well-versed in zodiac signs - but I found out that I met zodiac signs them in bundles (and some never ever!).
    So: You are the third person in that sign of pisces: my lovely Daughter in Love is that too (that expression another blogger kindly allowed me to snatch - so much more appropriate than the stiff "Daughter in Law" or the somehow flippant "DiL"), and my Flying Dutchman, pisces - now you - I am impressed!
    So the very best wishes for the year ahead - as it started so overwhelming I am utterly convinced it will go on like that - fulminant!

  8. It seems like you're slowly returning to some formm of normal, while here the numbers continue to explore because nobody wants to be inconvenienced. Sounds like you had a truly enjoyable evening with Herr Handel.

  9. Music is, of course, vibration, and being there you can feel the vibration as well as hear it, which, makes a big difference, I find. It is a rather long time since I have done so, however, unfortunately.

    PS, I always feel a bit guilty ticking the "I am not a robot" box such as is used here, for I am not sure whether I am a robot or not. Fancy robots are still robots, perhaps.

  10. Belated birthday greetings dear Pipistrello, and what a lovely way in which to celebrate it. I can't wait to be able to go to theatres and concert halls again to see live performances, and wonder how long we may have to wait. A performance that I am anxiously looking forward to is hearing one of my beautiful granddaughters. She is a classical Soprano and I have only ever been able to watch on the computer ever since she graduated with a first from her Music Conservatoire - roll on that happy day.

  11. Tanti auguri di buon compleanno, Signora Pipistrello, and for the 940 million kilometres on your next sun-orbit health, love, joy, leisure inspiration and success, and – in case something won't immediately work out – lots of serene calm and calm serenety.
    In case my friend Tetrapilotomos, despite being busy with proof-reading his 1,669 pages short opus magnum "Pre-Assyrian Philately in a Nutshell" does sacrifice 15 minutes of his precious time in order to invent a mobile wormhole for you I hope to see you at the next Göttingen International Handel Festival.

  12. ToF: Things are certainly waking up here and we've tickets in our hot hands for two more things over the next month, which with luck will proceed without a hitch, so you could get some more Pipistrello-styled reviewing around these pages ... Christ Stopped was a fabulous read and is slated for a review, but things move rather slowly in that department for some reason - usually distractions by shiny things to blame - and you are up for a Special Callout for the recommendation!

    Britta: Thank you, Dear Britta! I confess that I'm a sciolist when it comes to matters astrological and my nuggets of wisdom lie solely in my belief I'm typically Piscean and that Pisceans and Scorpios make an ideal pairing :) ... I don't expect you intended some negative connotation with 'fulminant' but I'll take your wishing well with the good cheer I did interpret!

    Loree: Thank you, Dear Loree! Herr Handel is rather good company in our book and to be able to pick some 300-year-old entertainments for our first Big Night Out while the Sydney Gay Mardi Gras is kicking off this weekend shows the variety of stuffs on offer here, and does seem like things are heading in the direction of Normal.

    Andrew: Very true. And hopefully you'll get some live entertainments in your neck of the woods before too long ... Robots are robots just so long as they obey the 3 Laws, which I expect you do.

  13. Rosemary: Thank you, Dear Rosemary! How wonderful to have a musician in the family! You must be very proud and delighted she's so talented. It will certainly be a day to remember when you get to hear her on the stage.

    Sean: Now there's a lavish and well-appointed birthday wish! It seems Tetrapilotomos does have his work cut out for him so I'm not exactly holding my breath on that wormhole. But thank you for the excellent link and while it's definitely going onto the Travel Wishlist for some future life of ours, it appears I've plenty to be getting on with as there's a huge backlist of entertainments online - a real gift!

  14. A CONCERT!
    WOW..........we still have aways to GO before that happened here.......

  15. Contessa: We enjoyed it for everyone who's still waiting in the wings for the opportunity to get out :) xx

  16. Happy belated birthday...I am behind in everything (it feels like) incl. reading blogs... so envious of your in-person experience... it still feels like it will be a long wait here and I find myself thinking about Broadway, wondering about all those whose life work it was, and wondering if it will ever return. The joy of a play, concert, musical in person is something we took for granted, never once thinking the lights could really go out. I am LOVING Three Men in a Boat (Not to Mention the Dog)... just the title makes me swoon. I didn't realize I had ordered a true pocket size hardcover...if a book can look adorable, it wins the prize... watercolor artwork on jacket and tiny ribbon to mark one's place : ) It's a treasure. (And who would think a person's name could be Jerome K. Jerome...what was his mother thinking?!!)

  17. Debbie: Thank you! Have no fear, it will all return to normal eventually, even if companies start off small and feel a bit rusty at first. There’s a lot of $$ sloshing about right now, looking for ways to be spent and if there’s one thing that America does without par, it’s philanthropy in the arts! ... So glad you're enjoying the company of gentlemen and the physical book is a gem!


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