The December 22, 2019, performance by the Bach Collegium San Diego of G. F. Handel’s complete “Messiah” in the Baker-Baum Concert Hall of the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center in La Jolla benefited greatly from the new hall’s splendid acoustics, high ceiling and clean sight lines. Of even greater import, the Bach Collegium’s fresh, insightful approach to 18th-century period performance practice gave it uncanny communicative powers to a 21st-century audience.

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If you are going to produce a rarely staged G. F. Handel opera, it is a good thing to have a few Handel operas under your belt. Opera NEO’s vibrant, superbly sung “Partenope” this past weekend (August 3 & 5) revealed how confidently this company has succeeded in making these Baroque operas as dramatically engaging as the popular verismo warhorses.

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For Opera NEO’s 2018 Summer Opera Festival and Workshop, San Diego’s younger, adventurous opera company will feature a rare Handel opera, “Partenope,” Franz Lehár’s beloved chestnut “The Merry Widow,” and “Idomeneo,” a Mozart opera most opera lovers know by title only.

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