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College of Arts and Humanities

Musica Antiqua Presents “Handel vs. Porpora on the London Stage”

The CWU Department of Music will present the first of this year’s Musica Antiqua concerts on Friday, September 21 at 7 PM. This hour long free program, to be held in the McIntyre Music Building Recital Hall, will focus on musical events in early 18th century London, specifically on the competition between composers G. F. Handel and Nicola Porpora. This was a time when Italian opera was the hot ticket in London, and Handel was the reigning composer, at least until an anti-Handelian clique established the "Opera of the Nobility" and hired the most famous Italian opera composer of the day, Nicola Porpora, to mount competing performances.

Handel's Ariodante opened on January 8, 1735 at Covent Garden, followed closely by Porpora's Polifemo, which opened Feb 1, 1735 at King's Theater. Then, as now, opera was a risky business and both companies closed within a year. But from these operas we have some extraordinary music that remains in contemporary concert repertory. In this program, you'll hear the signature arias from each of these operas: Handel's "Scherza infida" and Porpora's Alto Giove, with mezzo-soprano Melissa Schiel as soloist in both. Orchestral works on the program will show the unique elements of each composer's compositional style. Joining Ms. Schiel and director Margret Gries on stage will be performers from CWU music faculty, students and alumnae.

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