While creating the libretto for Handel's Hercules, librettist Thomas Broughton created his composition from a variety of classic sources and, unlike other modern depictions of Hercules, the opera doesn't focus on his lineage as a demi-god, or his 'superhero' achievements, but the very human circumstances that surround his death. This spring, director Peter Sellars takes the tale and adapts it for a modern age, highlighting the emotional, and spiritual, drain of war on soldiers and the families they leave behind at home. To further your understanding of this opera, here are five book selections, some of which you can find in the Opera Shop.
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By Nikita Gourski, Development Communications Officer
This April, Handel’s Hercules has its COC premiere in a new co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago. Here are eight key things you may want to know before you head to your seat!
1) Based on mythology, rooted in real life
Handel’s Hercules is based on an ancient Greek tragedy, Women of Trachis, written by Sophocles around 450 BC. In addition to being one of the most celebrated playwrights of his era, Sophocles was a war general who understood the emotionally intense – even dangerous – landscape that awaited soldiers and their families after a period of war. Though the subject derives from mythology, Sophocles’ treatment of it was profoundly human.
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By Gianmarco Segato, Adult Programs Manager
As with 1744’s Semele, produced by the COC in 2012, Handel’s Hercules (1745) was a response to the waning popularity of the Italian operas which had been hugely successful and had dominated his output in the 1730s. At first glance, Hercules, like Semele, might seem to belong more in the world of oratorio than opera. However, from the start Hercules was recognized as a “musical drama,” as was printed in the original libretto.
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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001