May 26th – June 11th, 2017: “Original? – Counterfeit?”
In Halle an der Saale, you can hear Handel the whole year round, but a very special atmosphere overtakes the city during the Handel Festival in spring. This festival has taken place in Halle every year since 1952 in the venues that marked his early years, and each time, musical milestones are set by top ensembles and artists from all over the world.
Dr. Bernd Wiegand, Mayor of Halle / President of the Handel House Foundation Board of Trustees: "In 2017, the focus of the international Handel Festival will be on Biblical themes in Handel’s works. By choosing this theme, Saxony-Anhalt’s greatest music festival and Halle an der Saale, the city of the composer birth located in the core region of the Reformation, are underscoring the city’s cultural potential. This is attracting international attention quite particularly in the year of the Reformation anniversary which is being observed worldwide, and could provide important impetus for the application of our open-minded, creative and growing city for the title of European Capital of Culture 2025".
In 2017, a fascinating and diverse festival programme awaits visitors once again. The Handel Festival will be officially opened at the Handel Monument on May 26, 2017, by tradition on Marktplatz. During the ensuing 17 festival days, an irresistible mixture of top-notch Baroque, Classical, jazz, electronic and world music by internationally renowned soloists, ensembles and choirs will be enthusing audiences with the theme of “Original – Counterfeit?”. A total of ten ECHO Klassik award winners will be taking the stage, including Il Pomo d'Oro, the Pera Ensemble, Concerto Köln and Lautten Compagney Berlin, as well as the outstanding Vivica Genaux, Ann Hallenberg and Sonia Prina, each of whom will be giving their own gala concert. The celebrated countertenor Xavier Sabata and Spanish tenor Juan Sancho will also be enthralling audiences in gala concerts. Audiences will be able to enjoy magical puppet-theatre performances of Acis and Galatea, HWV49a, and Giustino, HWV 37, in the historic Goethe Theatre in Bad Lauchstädt. Anyone who remembers the wonderful puppet production of Rinaldo in 2011 will know that a very special theatre experience awaits visitors. Fans of historically informed performance practice can look forward to a special event in the Carl Maria von Weber Theatre in Bernburg: not only does Musica Florea perform using a historically informed approach; the choreography and costumes of the Hartig Ensemble are also based on historic models.
The 2017 Handel Festival will present five different oratorios in honour of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The climax of these is set to be the fully staged performance of Jephtha at the Halle Opera. The musical director of this new production is Christoph Spering; the stage director is Tatjana Gürbaca. Messiah, HWV 56, probably Handel’s best-known oratorio, will be performed twice: the Dublin version of 1742 can be heard in Halle Cathedral and the London version of 1743 in the Marktkirche. Also awaiting visitors is a new production of Esther based on the Halle Handel Edition, Deborah, an interfaith project by the Abrahamic world religions, and concerts spanning various musical genres, such as the different Baroque Lounge, jazz and late-night concerts, as well as the open-air events on Domplatz and in Galgenberg Gorge.