Bachtrack logo

Guide to Handel Halle Festival


May 25th – June 10th, 2018

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.

In 2018, Halle an der Saale will once again be the scene of a glittering Handel Festival. Under the title “Foreign Worlds”, during the 17 days of the festival more than 100 events making up the main and secondary programmes will be taking place in and around the city of the composer’s birth in celebration of its great son while also providing some extraordinary musical experiences in authentic venues.

The new production of Berenice, Regina d’Egitto at Halle Opera on the first day of the festival will close the final gap in the repertoire after nearly 100 years: all 42 of the composer’s operas will then have been performed in his home city since the revival of Handel’s operas began, with Orlando, in the year 1922. This first performance of Berenice, Regina d’Egitto is based on the Halle Handel Edition – just like a further eight works. The Handel Festival will be presenting 15 ECHO Klassik prize winners in eight operas, three other staged performances, three oratorios, six gala concerts and a number of events that cross all genres. The festival brings together stars of the international Baroque music scene. Among other artists, visitors will have the chance to hear, in live performances, several-time ECHO Klassik and Grammy award winner Joyce DiDonato, sopranos Julia Lezhneva and Sophie Karthäuser, mezzo-sopranos Magdalena Kožená and Ann Hallenberg, alto Nathalie Stutzmann and countertenors Max Emanuel Cencic and Xavier Sabata. Further musical enjoyment will be provided by internationally renowned ensembles such as Il Pomo d’Oro, under the musical direction of Maxim Emelyanychev, John Butt and the Dunedin Consort, and La Cetra Barockorchester conducted by Andrea Marcon. As in past years, bridges will also be built to other music genres, including jazz, electro and rock music. And a number of concerts will be entering into a thrilling musical dialogue with other cultures, such as Turkish and Persian music.

The motto bannering the 2018 Handel Festival, “Foreign Worlds”, will be omnipresent, with the International Academic Conference also turning its attention to this theme. During the course of his life, Handel got to know foreign languages, countries, cultures and religions. In his music he overcame barriers time and again, transporting listeners to faraway places and sometimes even to fairytale worlds. Has Handel’s world now become alien to us? Or is there also much that is familiar to us? We invite you to come and investigate these exciting questions.

The programme also includes an anniversary: in 1968, the Goethe Theatre in Bad Lauchstädt was a venue of the Handel Festival for the first time. During these 50 years, this historic theatre has become an established part of the festival. Next year, the famous Lautten Compagney Berlin under the musical direction of Wolfgang Katschner will be staging Handel’s serenata Parnasso in festa and the Prague Baroque ensemble Musica Florea the opera pasticcio Muzio Scevola. This will be the first staged performance of Muzio Scevola in its entirety since the eighteenth century. This German premiere will take place at the Carl Maria von Weber Theatre in Bernburg. Bach Consort Wien with Rubén Dubrovsky and selected soloists will be performing Handel’s Oreste.

But the Handel Festival will also be breaking completely new ground in the year ahead. Besides the tried, tested and ever more popular Baroque Lounges, we will for the first time be a holding poetry slam, with the theme of “Foreign Worlds”. Baroque music and poetry slams – what a strange combination. Are they compatible at all? We’re looking forward to finding out, taking our example from Handel.

We will also be developing our partnership with the London Handel Festival. The Handel Singing Competition has already launched many an international singing career. For this first time, two prize winners of the 2017 competition will be presenting a lunchtime concert in Handel House, Halle. Admission is free – as it is for numerous other events at next year’s Handel Festival. For example, visitors can look forward to the 16th Organ Night, a night-time concert, the International Academic Conference, lectures on selected events, Handel for Brass on Domplatz and the Family Festival in the courtyard of Handel House, all admission-free.


For full information, visit the Festival’s website.

Upcoming eventsSee more...

HalleFeierstunde am Händel-Denkmal

Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg Chamber Orchestra; Stadtsingechor zu Halle; Pfeiferstuhl Music Halle; Salzwirker-Brüderschaft im Thale zu Halle


HalleFestliche Eröffnung der Händel-Festspiele

Handel: Berenice, regina d'Egitto
Jörg Halubek; Jochen Biganzoli; Oper Halle; Wolf Gutjahr; Katharina Weissenborn; Händelfestspielorchester Halle

HalleHändel for Brass - Open Air

Sachsen-Anhalt-Brass – Die Mitteldeutschen Bläsersolisten

Bad LauchstädtParnasso in festa

Handel: Parnasso in festa
Wolfgang Katschner; Sigrid T'Hooft; Niels Badenhop; Riccardo Angelo Strano; Hanna Herfurtner

HalleDieter Ilg: Mein Händel – Jazz Arrangement

Dieter Ilg; Rainer Böhm; Patrice Héral

HalleOrmisda (konzertante Aufführung)

Handel: Ormisda, HWV A3
Leo Duarte; Opera Settecento; Hugo Hymes; Ciara Hendrick; Tom Verney; Maria Ostroukhova

HalleFestkonzert mit Joyce DiDonato

Purcell, Jommelli, Gesualdo, Pärt, Handel
Maxim Emelyanychev; Joyce DiDonato; Il Pomo d'Oro; Manuel Palazzo; Ralf Pleger


Handel: Samson
John Butt; Sophie Bevan; Sonia Prina; Joshua Ellicott; Matthew Brook
Latest reviewsSee more...

Handel's Messiah, 1743 London première version

Messiah in Halle © Stiftung Händel-Haus
The Halle Handel Festival offered a unique opportunity to hear Handel's Messiah in both the Dublin version of 1742 and the London version of 1743 within the space of a week.
Read more

Baroque tenor Juan Sancho at the Halle Handel Festival

Juan Sancho © Juan Sancho
Rising tenor Juan Sancho sang an exciting if slightly thematically odd program, Handel's Seven Deadly Sins, at the Halle Handel Festival
Read more

Handel's Esther at the Halle Festival

La Risonanza and the Capella Cracoviensis Choir © Stiftung Händel-Haus
Overall a good performance of Handel's oratorio Esther at the Halle Festival, but some problems with the soloists unfortunately let it down.
Read more

Hammer blow: Handel's Deborah in Halle

Xavier Sabata and Capella Cracoviensis © Stiftung Händel-Haus
A popular performance of Handel's oratorio Deborah, featuring Baroque opera singer Xavier Sabata and English soprano Rebecca Bottone, garners warm applause at the Halle Handel Festival.
Read more
read preview to the 2017 festival

Biblical epics the stars of the 2017 Handel Halle Festival

Händelhaus © Thomas Ziegler
Every year, Halle honours one of its favourite sons – composer Georg Friedrich Händel, who was born there in 1685. The Handel Halle Festival takes place from the end of May until early June and attracts the top Baroque performers from all over the globe.