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The Classical Evaluate » » Glover, first-class solid open MOB season in thrilling style with Handel’s “Jephtha”

Tenor David Portillo sang the title position in Handel’s Jephthah with Music of the Baroque Sunday night time on the North Shore Middle in Skokie. Photograph: HMS Media

Uncommon the music group that manages to hit a grand slam within the very first live performance of a contemporary fall season.

However such was the case Sunday night time in Skokie when Dame Jane Glover opened her twentieth season main Music of the Baroque with an intensely dramatic and thrillingly sung efficiency of Handel’s Jephthah. There’s one repeat tonight on the Harris Theater and no self-respecting opera or Baroque fan ought to miss it.

Handel was usually a lightning-fast composer. However by 1751, his imaginative and prescient of him was failing alongside along with his well being of him, and Jephthah it took seven months to finish. But on this work—Handel’s remaining oratorio and his final vital composition by him—there isn’t any signal of flagging inspiration and Jephthah bounds in musical riches, for soloists and refrain alike.

The narrative tells of the title Israeli warrior who guarantees God that if he emerges victorious in a key battle in opposition to the Ammonites he’ll sacrifice the primary being he sees upon his return. Sadly, that individual is Jephtha’s beloved daughter, Iphis. Jephtha is horrified by this flip of occasions but, regardless of the pleas of members of the family and Iphis’s fiancee, he’s resolute in vowing to maintain his phrase from him to God. On the eleventh hour an angel seems and states that Jephtha’s vow could be met, not by human sacrifice, however by Iphis remaining a virgin devoted to God for her lifetime of her, which she agrees to amid basic rejoicing. Higher unbed than lifeless.

As rickety and off-putting because the situation could also be for contemporary listeners, the music is constantly impressed—choruses are particularly outstanding—and the very human reactions of all of the characters, Iphis specifically, are painted by Handel with typical perception and sensitivity.

Glover has acknowledged that she has been eager to current Jephthah, a piece she extremely esteems, in Chicago for a very long time. MOB’s music director was most skillful in her trimming of the rating, managing to maintain the night at round 2-1/2 hours (together with intermission) with out dropping something important.

Glover led a boldly dramatic, silver-screen efficiency of Handel’s oratorio on the North Shore Middle, one which made even veteran Handel fingers appear pallid and ascetic by comparability. The night moved with crackling urgency and Glover introduced out the ingenuity of the music in addition to the deep vein of feeling at its core.

The efficiency benefited enormously from a lineup of soloists that was firstclass throughout the board, not simply satisfactory or acquainted.

David Portillo, an outstanding David in Lyric Opera’s 2013 meistersinger, is a singer we do not hear almost sufficient in Chicago. Portillo could not have bodily represented the bearded biblical patriarch, however he introduced first-class vocalism and searing dramatic depth to the title position.

Portillo sang with luxuriant tenor tone, daunting energy and placing flexibility, with each phrase crystal clear. He conveyed the roiling ache of Jephtha’s conflicted soul in his late soliloquy (“Deeper and deeper nonetheless”) and delivered the oratorio’s most indelible aria, “Waft her, angels, via the skies,” with utmost delicacy and refined depth of feeling.

He additionally put throughout Jephtha’s feelings with apt theatricality, as along with his violent outburst (“Fly, begone!”) at Iphis for greeting him and inadvertently turning into the sufferer of his promised sacrifice.

Lauren Snouffer sang the position of Iphis in Jephthah sunday night time Photograph: HMS Media

Because the almost-sacrificial daughter, Lauren Snouffer’s affecting efficiency as Iphis was on a comparable degree. The soprano introduced a vibrant, youthful tone and simple agility (as in “The smiling daybreak of pleased days”) to her singing of her. Snouffer was charismatic in “Tune the tender melodious lute”—with Mary Stolper’s obbligato flute equally lilting—and most affecting her in her latter tragic arias.

Inside the confines of the live performance format, Snouffer managed to subtly make the drama register, smiling warmly at her fiancee Hamor within the love duet (“These labors previous, how pleased we!”) and slowly decreasing her head when Jephtha angrily banishes her.

As her beloved Hamor, countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen has clearly fulfilled the profession promise of his 2017 Chicago debut with the Newberry Consort. Cohen sang with a shimmering, evenly produced tone, far faraway from many a wispy excessive male voice. He additionally confirmed a stage actor’s ease in making this fairly weakly drawn character appear dramatically plausible.

As Storge, Clara Osnowski introduced a heat, aptly maternal mezzo to the position of Jephtha’s spouse, but displayed placing fury at Iphis’s impending execution in “Let different creatures die.”

Neal Davies received the proceedings off to a energetic begin as Zebul. The British bass-baritone etched a characterful flip as Jephtha’s brother, wielding his large voice with shocking facility.

Katelyn Lee, an everyday MOB refrain member, sang solidly within the temporary, god ex machina position of the Angel who delivers the climactic information about Iphis’s salvation.

The orchestra enjoying had a number of floating fluffs on Sunday however was constantly dedicated and energized. The clarion trumpet enjoying of Barbara Butler and Matt Baker hovering exhilaratingly over the ensemble.

In Andrew Megill’s first project since taking the reins formally, MOB’s new refrain director scored a triumph. As constant because the ensemble has been lately, the MOB Refrain appeared to be singing at a complete new degree of depth and brilliance far past their numbers. The choral challenges are appreciable in Jephthah, and the ensemble tackled all of them with daunting verve and polish, making Handel’s forward-looking harmonies register with bracing influence.

The only real, not-insignificant glitch Sunday night time was that the projected supertitles did not work in any respect for the lengthy first half of the night. This lapse didn’t show deadly in an English-language work and with soloists singing with such distinct enunciation. Nonetheless, in a status present like this, the technical epic fail was felt in such a text-driven work.

Photograph: HMS Media

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