Handel’s Triumph in Rome: A Must-See Baroque Masterpiece at BIF 2024

Handel’s Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno (The Triumph of Time and Truth) is one of five operas at this year’s Buxton  International Festival. This production sees Christian Curnyn, one of the UK’s leading conductors specialising in baroque repertoire, returning to Buxton with the award-winning Early Opera Company, following their triumphant Acis and Galatea in 2021. He leads a world-class cast, featuring Anna Dennis as ‘Bellezza’ (Beauty) and ‘rising star Hilary Cronin in the role of ‘Piacere’ (Pleasure)

Why Should You Book Tickets to see Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno?

Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno (The triumph of time and truth) is Handel’s first Italian oratorio, performed in Rome in 1707, not long after he moved there.

Oratorio was a very important genre, used as a substitute for opera in Rome, where the ecclesiastical authorities were very critical about opera and all it stood for. In fact, in the first decade of the 18th century, opera was entirely forbidden in Rome. Luckily for us, Handel wriggled around this rule, and oratorio gems like ‘Il trionfo’ were born.  The work is stellar Handel.

Handel was a theatrical composer by nature.  His decision to travel to Italy, the country where musical theatre was born, played a key role in his development as a composer, laying the foundations for his reputation as one of the leading composers of his time.

‘Il trionfo’ is a morality play, showing Handel’s theatrical skill off at its absolute best. The key character, Bellezza (Beauty) is encouraged to choose the path of worldly things by Piacere (Pleasure), whereas the opposing characters Disinganno (Insight) and Tempo (Time) try to persuade her that real beauty isn’t something of this world, which is doomed to pass, but instead it is moral truth which lasts eternally. Insight and Time win the day.

The argument is a musical to-ing and fro-ing of beautiful arias, choruses and recitatives and there is no one better to tell the story than baroque opera specialists, the Early Opera Company, conducted by Christian Curnyn.

Handel so loved the most famous aria in the work, ‘Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa (Leave the thorn, take the rose)’ that it appears all over his works.  Its beautiful melody is first found in his 1705 opera Almira, then Pleasure sings it in Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno in 1707 and four years after that, Handel used it again for his London opera, Rinaldo, by which time it was renamed Lascia ch’io pianga (Let me weep).

The aria has since been recorded by many artists and is featured in several films including Farinelli, the Antichrist and Nymphomaniac.

The Early Opera Company’s production is a must-see, not only for the spell-binding moment of ‘Lascia la spina’ but also for the light, dance-like to-ings and fro-ings between the oratorio’s main characters as Beauty is directed along her path for life.

Meet the stellar cast

BIF are are thrilled to welcome a stellar cast for the production of ‘Il Trionfo’, showcasing some of the finest talents in the world of baroque opera.

Anna Dennis (Bellezza) Soprano Anna Dennis is no stranger to Buxton audiences. In 2021, she dazzled in the role of Galatea in Handel’s Acis and Galate when the Early Opera Company last visited the Festival. Her consummate vocal and dramatic portrayal in Music Theatre Wales’ production of Tom Coult’s Violet in 2023 further solidified her reputation as a versatile and compelling performer. We are delighted to welcome her back to Buxton, where her performance as Bellezza is eagerly anticipated.

Hilary Cronin (Piacere) Making her Buxton debut, soprano Hilary Cronin is a rising star in the baroque music scene. Described by The Telegraph as “surely the stand-out Handelian soprano of the moment,” Cronin has collaborated with prestigious groups such as the English Concert, The Sixteen, and the English Baroque Soloists. Her portrayal of Piacere is sure to captivate festival audiences with her exceptional talent and interpretation.

Jorge Navarro Colorado (Tempo) Spanish tenor Jorge Navarro Colorado returns to Buxton after his memorable performance as Damon in Acis and Galatea in 2021. He has performed with some of Europe’s finest baroque ensembles, including the Lautten Compagney, Capella Cracoviensis, and the Bach Consort Wien. His role as Tempo in this production will undoubtedly showcase his outstanding vocal abilities and dramatic presence.

Hilary Summers (Disinganno) Contralto Hilary Summers brings a wealth of experience and acclaim to the role of Disinganno. With a Grammy award for her recording of works by Pierre Boulez and performances in world premieres by composers such as Elliot Carter and Gerald Barry, Summers is a leading figure in both contemporary and baroque music. She has a particularly strong connection with Christian Curnyn and the Early Opera Company, having recorded the role of Disinganno on their 2011 recording of the work. Her performance is set to be a masterclass in vocal artistry and emotional depth.

Performance dates and times

Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno is on 7, 11, 15 and 18 July 2024 at Buxton Opera House. Tickets are priced £25 – £88. For more information and bookings go to buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/il-trionfo-del-tempo-e-del-disinganno

Are you a group of 10+? If so, enjoy 10% discount on ticket prices

We welcome groups of all types to Buxton International Festival and provide a group booking service for parties of 10+ along with 10% discount on ticket prices.

A group discount is available for any groups of 10+ to any events across our extensive programme of opera, music, jazz and book talks. We can work with you to find you the best festival itinerary for your party.

Click here to find out more or get in touch with our team: jen.francis@buxtonfestival.co.uk