A Crisp Performance
'Belshazzar' at the London Handel Festival,
reviewed by ROBERT HUGILL
Handel turned to Charles Jennens for the libretto of Belshazzar when his previous librettist, James Miller, died. Jennens had been unhappy at Handel's treatment of Messiah; surprisingly Jennens seems to have been happy to supply Handel with another libretto. But he delivered it piecemeal, act by act, and Handel was so taken with the text that he started composing Act 1 before he'd received Act 3. When Act 3 did arrive, he realised that he would have to retrench somewhat if the oratorio wasn't to last over four hours. This cutting made the work rather tauter than some of Handel's other dramatic oratorios, but the changes to the work didn't stop there...
Copyright © 25 February 2010