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Festival: Internationale Händel-Festspiele Karlsruhe


February 16th – March 2nd, 2018

The inclusion of Handel in opera has long been a tradition in Karlsruhe. Under the guidance of Felix Mottl, Acis and Galatea was performed on the stage of the court theatre there as early as 1888, and the Badische Staatstheater Karlsruhe (Baden state theatre in Karlsruhe) was involved in the “Handelrenaissance” from the 1920s under directors such as Josef Krips and Joseph Keilberth. In 1978, the performance of Handel operas was institutionalised on a biennial basis to start with before becoming a yearly occurrence later on. The theatre’s proximity to France played a decisive role in the development of its specific profile because of important figures like Jean-Claude Malgoire and Jean-Louis Martinoty. Thanks to TV, radio and vinyl productions such as sensational pastiches, in 1985 Karlsruhe took on an international pioneering role in the experimental exploration of historical performance practices. Annual workshops brought specialists from all over the world together, and their results were presented in opera performances and concerts. Research symposia provided inspiration for the Handel revival, both in terms of sound and the way scenes were displayed. Guest performances allowed these results to be shared internationally beyond Baden.

Thanks to such pioneering work, Handel is a permanent programme component at every operahouse in the world today. The International Handel Festival has assumed the role of a lighthouse under the new circumstances. The festival is just two weeks, but its packed programme offers visitors, who come from all over the planet, performances by current stars from the early music world as well as performances by those who are in the process of transitioning to an international career and by stars of the future. Michael Fichtenholz, the director of the Karlsruhe International Handel Festival, is known for his unerring instinct and his omnipresence in scenes.

The backbone of the Handel Festival consists of two scenical opera productions that are produced exclusively for the festival and held at the Staatstheater Karlsruhe and of the star concerts which are headlined by the Abendsterne and held in the city’s historical churches. These events are supplemented by a plethora of solo, chamber and orchestra concerts that include guest ensembles and performances by the theatre’s in-house festival orchestra on replicas of historic instruments. The 41st Handel Festival, which takes place from 16th February to 2nd March 2018, is bringing American director James Darrah to Europe for the first time for Alcina and will see a resumption of Floris Visser’s successful production Semele with the main parts recast.


For full information, visit the Karlsruhe International Handel Festival Website.

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Heroines of antiquity in Karlsruhe

Anna Bonitatibus © Frank Bonitatibus
Anna Bonitatibus provides an object lesson in compelling Baroque singing with a concert featuring "Heroines of Antiquity"
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Music for the Angels: Dixit Dominus and others at Karlsruhe

Jakub Józef Orliński © Anita Wasik
Excellent choral concert for Handel Festival at Karlsruhe, featuring works by Vivaldi and Handel, which also highlight up-and-coming countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński. 
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Handel's “Frauenliebe und -leben”

Patrizia Ciofi © Jorge Rodriguez Norton
Handel arias showcased by non-Handelian soprano and great ensemble Il pomo d'oro, with commentary by Donna Leon.
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