San Giovanni Battista


Our first performance of 2018 is Alessandro Stradella’s San Giovanni Battista (1675), an oratorio on the story of John the Baptist, in what will be its first full performance in Finland for thirty years. Acclaimed early-music ensemble Ensemble Nylandia will be conducted by harpsichordist and artistic director Matias Häkkinen, while countertenor David Hackston assumes the title role as John the Baptist.

Sat 24.3.2018 at 6pm, Olaus Petri Church, Minervankatu 4, Helsinki
Sun 25.3.2018 at 7pm, Church of St. Lawrence, Kirkkotie 45, Vantaa

Figlia: Meri Metsomäki
Madre: Elli Vallinoja
Battista: David Hackston
Consigliare: Juho Punkeri
Herode: Jussi Merikanto

Ensemble Nylandia, directed by Matias Häkkinen

Programme 20€/15€  Book in advance through our online store!

Performed in the original Italian. Duration 1h 30 min (includes interval)
English libretto here: mobile friendly version

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Alessandro Stradella composed the oratorio San Giovanni Battista for performance on Palm Sunday 1675 at the church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini in Rome. The work is technically demanding, its music vibrant and rhythmically intricate, giving expression to every nuance of the text. The libretto, based on events from the Bible, was compiled by Ansaldo Ansaldi.

The story culminates in the events leading up to the beheading of John the Baptist at the court of Herod, King of Judea. Herod has taken his half-brother’s wife Herodias as his own wife. Her daughter is Salome. John castigates the king for his immoral conduct, and enraged at this, Herod imprisons him. Salome’s beguiling dance pleases the king so much that he pledges to carry out her every wish. At her mother’s behest, Salome asks Herod to execute John the Baptist. Herod agrees and presents Salome with the Baptist’s head on a silver platter.

Matthew describes the events thus: “But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.” (Matt 14:6–11)