With a fireworks display of events, from grand opera to solemn oratorio to cross-genre formats, the Handel Festival Halle will celebrate its foundation days 100 years ago from 27 May to 12 June 2022.
The festival will open with a new production of the opera “Orlando”, which was the first Handel opera in Halle in 1922 and marked the end of the “Hallisches Händelfest”.
Numerous other operas, oratorios and concerts make the 17 festival days a highlight for baroque fans. The programme is rounded by innovative and exciting events that break all musical boundaries. Many well-known baroque stars, including a number of Handel Prize winners from past years, will join in the musical celebration of the anniversary in Halle.
This year’s Handel Prize will be awarded during the festival to the distinguished Handel scholar Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hirschmann, who teaches at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and is also president of the Georg Friedrich Handel Society.
In addition to the opulent musical programme and an exclusive special CD edition, a richly illustrated accompanying book and the annual exhibition “Feuerwerk und Halle-luja” will immerse the audience in the extensive history of the Halle Handel Festival. A festival on the pulse of time, built on tradition.
With 67 main events and numerous accompanying events in Halle and the region, the tradition-steeped Handel Festival in 2022 once again guarantees a programme that is as varied as it is top-class. Among other things, the audience can expect a new production of “Orlando”. The new artistic director of the Halle Opera, Walter Sutcliffe, will direct the production, while the musical direction will be in the hands of Christian Curnyn. The stage composer Handel is also present by “Caio Fabbricio”, a brilliant pasticcio that will be given its first modern revival in the historic Goethe Theatre in Bad Lauchstädt. And a veritable world premiere can even be heard with “Fernando, Re di Castiglia”. The dialogue between cultures and the exchange with musical idioms beyond the Baroque continue to be emphasised.
Like “Orlando”, numerous concerts and oratorios in the festival calendar are inspired by the performances of 1922. Some of the programmes have been reconstructed especially for this occasion, being performed not only at the original venues, but even by the same orchestras, of course with different people playing in them.
There will also be a joyful reunion with numerous Handel Prize winners of past years, who will not miss the opportunity to congratulate “their” Festival: Audience favourites such as Jordi Savall, Philippe Jaroussky, Ragna Schirmer or Romelia Lichtenstein, but also countertenor Axel Köhler, who continued to accompany the Festival as director after his retirement from the stage.
The authenticity of the performances in Halle is ensured not only by the “genius loci”, but also by numerous renowned orchestras and ensembles playing period instruments, regulars as well as debutants – for example, the Ensemble Divino Sospiro from Portugal, which will present the “Messiah” in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s version to the audience in Halle.
That Handel’s music has lost none of its fascination and appeal in the 21st century is demonstrated by accompanying projects such as the popular “Bridges to Classics” open air as well as encounters with the jazz scene or a poetry slam. To this day, Handel’s music is also present beyond opera and oratorio. An international academic conference will shed light on the Handel renaissance that made him the most performed Baroque composer today.
The musicologist, music historian and university lecturer Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hirschmann will receive the Handel Prize of the City of Halle, awarded by the Handel House Foundation, 2022. With this award, the Board of Trustees of the Handel House Foundation honors Prof. Hirschmann’s multifaceted and highly committed work, with which he has set standards and important accents for more than a decade, for example as one of two heads of editions and as a member of the editorial board of the Halle Handel Edition.
With an annual exhibition under the patronage of the Federal President, the Handel House Foundation looks back at the eventful history of the Handel Festival in Halle. As in 1922, the fireworks music and the “Hallelujah” from the “Messiah” are of course not to be missed; these two constants in the festival programme gave the Annual Exhibition 2022 its title. The annual exhibition will open on February 23rd, 2022 (Handel’s birthday) and will be on view until January 8th, 2023.
Parallel to the large special exhibition, a representative and richly illustrated accompanying book will be published, in which not only the history of the Festival but also renowned personalities will have their say, expressing their deep relationship with the Handel Festival.
In addition, the Handel House Foundation will publish an exclusive special CD edition with recordings from the years between 1958 and 2008. This is available for purchase exclusively in the Händel-Haus museum shop.
Intendant Clemens Birnbaum is looking forward to the anniversary programme: “We can unite 100 years of living Handel history in Halle in a great anniversary festival, many companions will actively support us in this and I am particularly pleased that the Federal President wishes the Handel Festival a successful anniversary season and a good future in his letter. I would like to thank all those with whose support we are able to celebrate such a great event with our audience from near and far. In addition to the city of Halle, the state of Sachsen-Anhalt and the federal government, I would like to single out Lotto Sachsen-Anhalt, the Ostdeutsche Sparkassenstiftung and the Saalesparkasse as representatives.”
Mayor Egbert Geier emphasizes the great importance of Handel for his city: “Handel was and is one of the most important people of Halle. His music inspires people all over the world and we are all proud and happy to be able to uphold his memory in the native city with one of the largest international festivals and the most important in Sachsen-Anhalt.”
Dr. Jürgen Fox supports the Handel Festival not only as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Handel House Foundation: “The Handel Festival is a magnet for visitors from all over the world. The special bond between the people of Halle and their festival is just as strong. As Chairman of the Board of the Saalesparkasse, I am delighted to be able to continue our long-lasting partnership this year and, together with the Ostdeutsche Sparkassenstiftung, to continue to make an active contribution to the success of the Halle Handel Festival.”