Handel’s second opera for the so-called “rival queens,” Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni, was Admeto, which had its premiere in 1727. Their purported rivalry—created more by the public than by the singers themselves—resulted most famously in the cat fight parodied by John Gay in his Beggar’s Opera of the same year. The operas Handel wrote for these reigning divas are as musically brilliant as any of his other works. But as a result of his attempts to structure dramas that would give absolutely equal value to two leading ladies, the rival-queen operas are dramatically problematic and strain credulity at times, Admeto not excepted.
Christopher Hogwood conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and a distinguished cast including Danielle de Niese and Charles Workman in Wayne McGregor's new production of Handel's opera in which The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet appear in a rare and beautifully crafted collaboration. Filmed with High Definition cameras and recorded in true surround sound.
Renée Fleming and Andreas Scholl lead a superb cast in Stephen Wadsworth’s celebrated production of Handel’s Rodelinda from the Metropolitan Opera – based on the "Live in HD" transmission to cinemas worldwide. The title role is unique in featuring no less than eight magnificent arias. Renée Fleming’s triumph in the first run of the production was hailed by The New York Times, "Ms Fleming draws on every resource of her artistry in this portrayal: luminous sound, exquisite ornamentation, floating high notes, emotional volatility."
…Yet these are not fragile or rarefied renditions, for Oberlinger and her companions are quite vigorous in the Allegro movements; the long, lyrical lines in the Larghettos and Adagios are always solidly supported through the soloist's unerring ornamentation; and the accompaniment is fully realized and strongly characterized, distributed throughout the works to a variety of basso continuo instruments. The illustrated booklet includes an informative essay on the recorder's history and Handel's music by Gerhard Braun, and the recording is absolutely clear in details and natural in reproduction. This disc is highly recommended.
The emotional content, lyricism and direct appeal of Gavin Bryars’s music are unique, reflecting a contemporary composer’s absorption and transformation of several centuries of musical craftsmanship in order to reflect his, and our, own epoch. Originally written for harpsichord, After Handel’s Vesper is a strong illustration of Bryars’s post-minimal interests in early music repertoire. Ramble on Cortona, derived from 13th-century music, makes expressive use of the piano’s resonant qualities, while in the highly-coloured, almost impressionistic The Solway Canal, landscapes pass by as if in a dream.
«Ho voluto raccontare la storia delle scoperte che il più grande scienziato ha assicurato al mondo intero. Perché? Perché siamo ignoranti, in troppi non sappiamo da dove veniamo e perché» - Dario Fo …
Hearing or performing music comes closest in the range of human activity to a visceral connection to the past. As long as we have notation and knowledge of how to interpret it, we can effectively experience something like our ancestors did when they sang the same music. Of course, our 20th-century sensibilities and knowledge–or lack thereof–prevent us from sharing identical responses, but as with the music on this disc, when we hear it we are in some way transported to another place. We know a completely different sound world from our own; we know that the accepted order of certain things was different. And we also know that in many ways people haven't changed. Machaut's music conveys a spirituality–both joyful and contemplative–that's as true in its impact as it must have been 600 years ago, a point made ever so clearly by these especially vibrant and vital performances.