< Back

Hercules by G.F. Handel

The Oratorio Society of Richmond presents Hercules by G.F. Handel – a story of love, jealousy, and revenge. Hercules returns from war and succumbs to a vengeful plot, lingering from his heroism of the past, unwittingly delivered at the hands of his jealous wife.

Synopsis: Lichas, herald of Hercules, depicts a scene of longing and sorrow within the palace walls. Dejanira, wife of Hercules, despairs over her husband’s wartime absence. Hyllus, son of Hercules, attempts to console his mother when the victorious Hercules suddenly returns from the battlefield. With him enters a beautiful prisoner, the legendary princess Iöle, and daughter of his rival Oechalia.

Iöle despairs over her captivity and the death of her beloved father at the hands of Hercules, and resists all demands by her captors. Inconsolably jealous of Iöle’s beauty, Dejanira is convinced her husband has committed infidelity.


Struck by her beauty, Hyllus confesses to Iöle he has fallen in love with her. Outraged, Iöle rejects the affections of Hyllus. Meanwhile, Dejanira feuds with Hercules over his new captive and denounces his past heroisms, claiming they are diminished due to his suspected infidelity. Enraged, Hercules insists upon his innocence and declares his heroisms still deserve just praise. Dejanira suppresses her suspicions and wishes to amend her love with Hercules. She plans to present him with a cloak entrusted to her by the dying Nessus, the defeated centaur and one of the twelve labours in Hercules’ past. Unbeknownst to Dejanira, the cloak bears poison due to the remnants of Nessus blood in the garment. Before she presents the cloak to her husband, Dejanira reconciles with Iöle and agrees to set her free.

Later, word reaches those in the palace that Hercules has suffered grave injury and death is imminent. Deceived by Nessus, the cloak gifted to Hercules by Dejanira fulfills the vengeful plot of the defeated centaur. The poisoned garment melts away the skin of Hercules and he suffers greatly. Receiving word of the tragedy, Hyllus rushes to his father’s side and remains with Hercules in his final moments of life. Dejanira despairs and is consumed by guilt. Hercules succumbs to his mortality, but the palace Priest declares the hero lives on as a God, as he is the son of Jupiter. The Priest passes the authorities of Hercules to Hyllus and Iöle if they will marry. Now free from captivity, Iöle agrees to wed Hyllus and peace is restored to the land.

Music Director – Nisan Ak
Harpsichordist, Music Preparation – Charles Lindsey
Concertmaster - Isabel Ong

Hercules – Ramelle Brooks, bass
Dejanira – Chelsea Duval-Major, mezzo-soprano
Hyllus – Michael Gray, tenor
Iöle – Virginia Hesse, soprano
Lichas – James Brown, countertenor
Priest of Jupiter – Wesley Diener, baritone
First Trachinian – Tate Tiemann, baritone

Ensemble, soprano – Tess Ottinger (Iöle cover), Savannah Whittenburg (Apprentice Artist), Josephine Lisette Miller (Apprentice Artist)
Ensemble, mezzo-soprano - Lisa Hogan (Dejanira cover), Catherine Joyce Pelletier (Lichas cover), Claudia Kessel (Local Artist)
Ensemble, tenor - Logan Webber (Hyllus cover), Alan Chavez (Local Artist)
Ensemble, bass - Wesley Diener (Hercules cover), Tate Tiemann (Priest Cover).

Artistic Administration - Elisabeth Dowdy
Slides and Supertitles - Crystal Gray

Hercules by G.F. Handel