Handel rated his beloved Theodoraabove and beyond his other oratorios, including Messiah, reportedly preferring the Act II finale He saw the lovely youthto the Hallelujah Chorus. Sadly ‘the town’ didn’t seem take to it at all in its day, but thanks to some decent recordings and Peter Sellars’ visceral staging for Glyndebourne in 1996, it has gradually found its rightful place among the masterpieces of the Baroque. Listening to it in this superbly sung performance by Sydney-based Pinchgut Opera you can see why, so it’s a pity that the whole is let down by a well-intentioned but clumsily staged production.


Valda Wilson, Caitlin Hulcup and Cantillation

The plot is simple. Valens, President of fourth-century Antioch, commands all to sacrifice to Jupiter. When the Christians refuse, Theodora, a prominent member, is taken to be compelled into ritual prostitution – for her a fate worse than death. Didymus, a Roman soldier and secret convert, swaps clothes to aid her escape, but when he is condemned in her place Theodora returns and insists on joining him in a joint martyrdom. In these times, when philosophies of religious freedom and fundamentalism...