Handel’s provocative opera Semele is a challenging take on the illusions and delusions of love. Ahead of its performance of Semele at Royal Festival Hall, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment asked social philosopher Roman Krznaric, author of The Wonderbox and Carpe Diem Regained, to give us his take on how audiences would have viewed Semele’s story through the ages.
Semele is smitten with Jupiter, but you can’t just buy a house and start a family when you’ve fallen for a god.
We learn how the Ancient Greeks had six different types of love and saw the fiery, passionate love known as eros as a form of madness. But by the time Handel was composing, we were developing a very different view of romantic love.
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, conducted by Christophe Rousset and starring Louise Alder, performed Handel’s Semele at Southbank Centre in October 2017.