1. One of the opening choruses of Theodora. Here the community of Christians celebrate the central tenet of their religious: Love. “Come, mighty Father, mighty Lord, With love our souls inspire, While grace and truth flow from thy word, And feed the holy fire.” Handel’s word-painting on “flow” (scales) and the holy fire (surface activity in the strings) complement his tender setting of “Love”.
2. The high-spirited love song of Orfeo—the last outpouring of joy before grief descends in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo.
3-5. The end of Act II of L’amant jaloux has all the vicissitudes of love! At the beginning of this scene Leonore and Alonze have a bitter fight. But then forgiveness comes in an heart-achingly beautiful duet … but then this in turn is interrupted by Florival’s famous off-stage serenade (with a gorgeous mandolin). This serenade is misdirected to Leonore … Alonze thinks she is unfaithful but it is all just a case of mistaken identity and in an incredible moment of music history the previously gorgeous love duet is turned by Grétry (the composer) into an acid-filled spit-fest between Leonore and Alonze. The act ends in splendid confusion and betrayal (but don’t worry—everything works out in the end!).
6. One of my favourite arias from Giasone. This is Medea’s post-coital aria following an energetic session of love-making with Giasone. She is smitten with the sexy young hero.
7. The text is just superb and of course is by Shakespeare, with a wonderful use of the rhetorical device of hyperbole: “One charming night gives more delight/Than a hundred lucky days/Night and I improve the taste/Make the pleasure longer last/A thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand, thousand several ways.” From Purcell’s The Fairy Queen.
8. This touching final scene documents the abiding love between Jonathan and David that surpasses even death, from Charpentier’s David et Jonathas.
9. From Theodora. This is the aria (superbly sung by Chris Lowrey) in which Didymus decides to follow his heart and go forth and free the captured Theodora. Irene immediately follows this aria with the line: “Oh Love, How Great Thy Pow’r!”
10. One of my favourite arias ever from a Pinchgut production. Listen to the young Alex Oomens (on the cusp of her flourishing career) in the stunning opening aria from Act III of L’amant jaloux. It is a night aria (hear the muted strings): here she sings of her love for Florival. It is a stunning piece. Mozart heard this opera when he was in Paris, and one can hear the influence of Grétry on Mozart (and most definitely not the other way around).