Skin-tight rubber and lacrosse sticks bring contemporary chic to this timeless fantasy of warriors and witches in Robert Carsen's fun-filled transformation of Handel's first London triumph. Conducting from the keyboard just as Handel himself did, Ottavio Dantone leads a youthful cast of today's luminaries in the dramatic art of Baroque opera, the 'affecting' Sonia Prina, the 'unadorned intensity' of Anett Fritsch and 'fire-breathing flair' (The Observer) of Brenda Rae.
In the autumn of last year Fabio Bonizzoni and La Risonanza embarked on a journey taking a fresh look – musicologically as well as musically – at the chamber cantatas to Italian texts and with instrumental accompaniment composed by Georg Frideric Handel during his stay in Italy. Where the first release on Glossa focused on works associated with Cardinal Pamphili in Rome, this new recording contains pieces – including the dramatic cantata Armida abbandonata and Handel’s ‘own’ Hunt Cantata – originating in the establishment of the Marquis Ruspoli and written for sopranos such asMargherita Durastante and Vittoria Tarquini.
Thanks to his omnivorous curiosity, conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt has revived an authentic masterpiece. Several opera composers–Lully, Handel, and Gluck–had already availed themselves of the amorous and stormy adventures of the knight Rinaldo and the enchantress Armida, drawn from Tasso's Jerusalem Liberated. Composed in 1784, Haydn's Armida was his the final opera he wrote for his patron Prince Esterházy, but it was also the composer's debut opera seria. Even so–and just like Mozart–Haydn knew how to free himself from the rigid and monotonous alternation of aria and recitative that customarily governed this genre. Thus the final act, which unfolds in an enchanted forest, offers us a half-hour of nearly uninterrupted music, even prefiguring the romantic shape of things to come in the 19th century. This recording was made from a concert performance in June 2000 in Vienna's sumptuous Musikverein under the blazing baton of Harnoncourt. The cast is impeccable–including Christoph Prégardien and Patricia Petibon and dominated by the stunning Cecilia Bartoli, who can swerve within a few bars from boiling anger to the most overwhelming amorous pleading.(Franck Erikson)
Rinaldo (HWV 7) is an opera by George Frideric Handel, composed in 1711, and was the first Italian language opera written specifically for the London stage. The libretto was prepared by Giacomo Rossi from a scenario provided by Aaron Hill, and the work was first performed at the Queen's Theatre in London's Haymarket on 24 February 1711. The story of love, war and redemption, set at the time of the First Crusade, is loosely based on Torquato Tasso's epic poem Gerusalemme liberata ("Jerusalem Delivered"), and its staging involved many original and vivid effects. It was a great success with the public, despite negative reactions from literary critics hostile to the contemporary trend towards Italian entertainment in English theatres.
According to Christopher Hogwood, in his marvelous biography of Handel, "In the winter of that year , Handel received what was for him an unusual commission. Although closely associated with the London theatre, he wrote very little incidental music for plays. A request from John Rich to provide airs and dances for Smollett's 'Alceste' was undertaken, according to Hawkins, in repayment of a debt to Rich."
Barthold Heinrich Brockes’ text for the passion oratorio, later named after him, is among the best-known Passion librettos of the early 18th century. This version is the first recording on CD of the work based on the copy made by J S Bach himself. It is distinguished from the better-known version by a different text for the opening chorus.
Peter Neumann strikes a powerful blow for some reassessment of Handel's version. He is assisted above all by Markus Brutscher's Evangelist which has urgency, cogency and clarity in equal measure. Markus Flaig's Jesus is also effective as is the relatively modest contribution by the Cologne Chamber Choir. (BBC Music Magazine)
Mortensen's magnificent direction brings out the full measure of excitement, pathos and emotion in Handel's score…[the production] conveys an enormous amount of what makes Partenope very special.–Gramophone
Following several acclaimed albums of Handel’s operatic and choral masterpieces (including a triumphant Giulio Cesare with Natalie Dessay as Cleopatra and the oratorio La Resurrezione with British soprano Kate Royal), French harpsichordist and conductor Emmanuelle Haïm at last brings her fresh, expressive approach to Messiah. Joining her on a musically and spiritually uplifting journey for this long-awaited recording is Haïm’s own choir and period-instrument orchestra, Le Concert d’Astrée, with four of the UK’s finest Handelian singers. Having begun her career as a brilliant harpsichordist and protegee of Baroque pioneers William Christie and Christophe Rousset, Haïm has a long history with Messiah.