Handel's Belshazzar at the Aix Festival was imported from the Staatsoper Berlin. Berlin had built a huge, magnificent production and imported English and American opera singers, including star-turn countertenor Bejun Mehta. Add to this a superb local Baroque instrumental ensemble and an accomplished vocal ensemble, not to mention the world-renowned early music conductor, René Jacobs: and voilà, an operatic hit. Christophe Nel, a well-respected director in progressive German opera houses teamed up with famed Swiss minimalist set designer Roland Aeschlimann and costume designer Bettina Walter to create a production which respected the supposed austerity of oratorio. This experienced team brought Handel's not-so-high drama and philosophic tragedy to almost operatic dramatic standards as the Persian prince Cyrus overran the dissolute Babylonians and freed the captive Jews.