live reviews; Handel: Jeptha Westminster Abbey; Atalanta St John's, Smith Sq

London's planning committees must secretly cherish the work of the Luftwaffe and the efficiency of German high explosives. When pressed to justify the conversion of yet another venerable town house into offices, planners need only mention wartime destruction to soothe their consciences and claim a preservation prize. The Brook Street home of German-born composer George Frideric Handel, in which he composed Messiah and many of his greatest works, managed to survive the blitz (and the brief residency of Jimi Hendrix) yet narrowly escaped the full blast from a recent redevelopment scheme proposed by a leading insurance company. The Handel House Trust has raised the funds necessary to buy the lease, intending to restore the composer's rooms and open a museum and recital room to the public in 1999. But cash is still required to match the project's Lottery grant, and Handelians are being asked to help save the composer's house for the nation.

Westminster Abbey, in which Handel often worked and now lies buried, was the appropriate venue for the last in a series of "Sing for Handel" concerts to benefit the Handel House Museum; Jeptha, the composer's final oratorio, served to highlight just why the Brook Street campaigners deserve success. The work's emotional depth, as powerful as anything in Handel's operatic output, demands an intelligent, expressive team of soloists, conditions amply satisfied here by Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, Della Jones, David Wilson-Johnson and, outstanding in the title-role, Nigel Robson.

In the late 1980s, Robson memorably explored Jeptha's character with John Eliot Gardiner, his Westminster Abbey account proving even more focused in its contrast between the Israelite leader's early heroics and his later grief-stricken airs. "His mighty arm with sudden blow", confirmed Robson as the right man for the job, robust of voice and Pears-like in delivery of words, while "Open thy marble jaws, O tomb" revealed the courage of the tenor's convictions to sing as close to the edge of silent prayer as technique would allow. Martin Neary's well-judged speeds and crisp playing from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment allowed the drama to flow, helped by incisive, eloquent singing by the men and boys of the Abbey Choir.

Although doubt remains about the future of Handel's house, his music clearly has lost none of its power to attract large audiences, with Jeptha doing good box-office business and, a few days earlier, Midsummer Opera encouraging a full house to St John's, Smith Square for a staged performance of the undervalued pastoral opera Atalanta. David Roblou's spirited yet highly disciplined leadership from the harpsichord and the playing of his Avison Ensemble extracted the best from Handel's colourful score, their work complemented by Alan Privett's sensitive staging and stylish choreography by Barry Grantham. Thin verging on the anorexic may be its plot, but Atalanta offers up adequate compensation in its musical range and here supplied ideal material for the excellent young South African soprano Sandra Ford to display a refined coloratura technique and genuine acting talent as Meleagro. After an untypically slow start, Patricia Rozario tapped into the expressive heart of Atalanta's' "Lassa! ch'io t'ho perduta" and matched Ford's agility and grace in their final-act duet. Andrew Stewart

Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette

film
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz