I do think that this Decca set is arguably the best compilation reissue of such a bulk of Handel work which has been released in a long time, just in time to commemorate the two hundred fiftieth anniversary of the passing of il caro Sassone. There is a lot in this box, absence of libretti notwithstanding. The enclosed booklet is essential to navigate you through the track listings and timings and little else but a small general essay on GFH.By John Van Note
This set contains 8 operas by Handel in 22 CDs. In many ways, this box is a mix-bag: some of them performed in the "traditional style" with severe cuts, and others in "historically-informed" performances. Selection includes some of the most popular Handel operas and some of the rarely-performed. It's the latter category that one should pay closer attention.
"…their instrumental contributions are always judicious. The brooding yet lively performance of the magnificent overture sets the tone for a performance which frequently brings out the inventive genius of Handle's writing. The pacing and rhetoric of the music is intelligently delivered throughout the performance, and (…) the cast is remarkably excellent: Joyce DiDonato's silvery singing is beautiful, stylish, dramatically astute yet unforced; her first contributions are matched by comparable quality from the light-voiced Sharon Rostorf-Zamir; Vito Priante smoulders with menacing villainy as Oronte; Roberta Invernizzi navigates the role of the disguised hero Timante with style and charm, and combines to wonderful effect with Rostorf-Zamir in the spellbinding duet "Fuor di periglio". Curtis certainly reveals that "Floridante" is a compelling and richly rewarding opera, and Handelians should not hesitate to add this to their collection." ~Grammophone
The performance of Agrippina received a guarded welcome on CD from David Vickers (7/04). Frédéric Fisbach’s production gives an amusing account, respectful yet inventive, of librettist Vincenzo Grimani’s look at the shenanigans of ancient Rome.
Agrippina shares three characters with L’incoronazione di Poppea but at an earlier stage of the story, Poppea here being pursued by Otho, Nero and the emperor Claudius. Agrippina, Claudius’s wife, spends the opera scheming to discredit Otho and to get Nero, her son by a previous marriage, designated as the next emperor. She is ultimately successful, but only after Claudius’s first attempt at a solution proves satisfactory to nobody.
– Richard Lawrence, Gramophone [1/2005]
Continuinghis exploration of Handel operas, maestro René Jacobs now turns his attention to Agrippina the first great operatic success of the composer s Italian period. Composed in 1709, Agrippina is an opera seria in three acts on a libretto by Cardinal Vincenzo Grimani. The opera tells the story of Agrippina, the mother of Nero, as she plots the downfall of the Roman Emperor Claudius and the installation of her son as emperor…
The chamber cantata flourished in Italy as a counterpart to public opera and oratorio, cultivated by aristocratic patrons for their personal enjoyment. Perhaps because of its essentially private origins, this pervasive Baroque form remains little known today. During his years in Italy (1706-1710), George Frideric Handel composed nearly 100 cantatas for a series of important patrons, but they have tended to be passed over in favor of his larger operas, oratorios, concertos and orchestral suites. The plan of La Risonanza to perform and record all of the cantatas with instrumental accompaniment (about one-third of the total) is therefore of signal importance for all music lovers, as it will bring this extraordinarily beautiful music once again to life (2006-2009).
This set contains 8 operas by Handel in 22 CDs. This set is an essential for Handel completists in that it includes Kuijken's excellent "Alessandro." It is one of Handel's best operatic creations.