From initial hearing in a radio broadcast to imminent performance in an opulent setting, Christian Curnyn has been on a long journey with Serse.
“Serse, or Xerxes when it’s sung in English, is a work that means a lot to me. I first heard it in a radio broadcast from ENO when I was at school, in the now legendary production by Nicholas Hytner, conducted by the late, great, Sir Charles Mackerras. I taped it (it was the old days of cassette players!) and listened in awe at the singing, the playing, and the wonderful voices led by Dame Anne Murray.
When I came to setting up Early Opera Company some years later, it was my obvious choice as a first venture. We were a group of recently graduated students, and really stepping into the unknown. In the end I was so proud of what we achieved on a tiny budget; it was onwards and upwards from there.
A few years back, for our sixth recording for Chandos, I really felt we were ready to tackle this favourite work again. Central to this was Anna Stéphany in the title role. It’s now fantastic to bring it to St John’s Smith Square, a perfect venue for baroque opera, with both an opulent setting and a wonderful acoustic.
The plot moves at a fantastic pace, with shorter arias than in many of Handel’s other works. Its mix of comedy and tragedy makes it one of his most beguiling operas.”