Handel’s oratorio Theodora marks the latest in a series of collaborations between UNT’s early music studies program and Graeme Jenkins, music director of the Dallas Opera. UNT and Jenkins began presenting Handel’s oratorios in 2001, working with groups across the region. The performances are accompanied by an orchestra using period instruments.

“It’s always an exciting challenge to put such a big production together in its authentic setting,” says Paul Leenhouts, director of early music studies and the Baroque Orchestra.

UNT’s program is one of the largest and most esteemed early music programs in the country with more than 70 students, 250 period instruments and a variety of small and large ensembles. Jenkins will conduct Theodora, bringing together groups such as the Baroque Orchestra and Collegium Singers along with leading vocal soloists skilled in performance practice. The oratorio was only performed three times in 1750 because of an earthquake in London the week before the premiere, Leenhouts says.

“But Theodora was Handel’s favorite oratorio, which the composer himself ranked higher than his Messiah,” he says.

The oratorio will premiere at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at UNT’s Murchison Performing Arts Center. Ruth Smith, a University of Cambridge expert on Handel’s work, will speak at 6:30 p.m. in the Murchison’s Instrumental Rehearsal Room. The concert also will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas. Smith lectures at Hamon Hall at 6:30 p.m.

For tickets, visit the Murchison Performing Arts Center online or call 940-369-7802 beginning Jan. 23 for the Denton performance, and AT&T Performing Arts Center online or 214-880-0202 for the Dallas performance.

Continue Reading