Carl Heinrich Graun (1703/4–59) was one of the two most famous composers of Italian opera in 18th-century Germany, his only serious rival being Johann Adolf Hasse at the court in Dresden. He was the court composer of Prussian King Frederick the Great. He wrote at least 26 highly acclaimed operas for the Berlin Unter den Linden opera house that Frederick built for that purpose, in addition to the six he had written for an earlier patron.
Handel wrote Floridante in 1722 for a London audience infatuated with Italian opera. The plot, like that of so many Baroque operas, was taken from ancient history and concerns romantic liaisons thrown into turmoil by political rivalries, in this case between Persia and Tyre. Handel wrote over 50 Italian operas, and it's remarkable that he was consistently able to summon such a high level of inventiveness and inspiration when faced repeatedly with librettos that must have come to look depressingly alike in the conventions of their labyrinthine plots. Handel, however, had strong enough musical and dramatic convictions that he refused to make alterations to the score of Floridante that would have changed the opera's character, after London's Royal Academy of Music informed him that changes in the performing personnel would require him to rewrite the vocal parts. Handel eventually made some adjustments, but stood firm about others – a bold position, considering the relatively low status of composers in the world of opera at the time. After the premiere with a less-than-ideal cast, Handel restored the score to his original intentions and it's that version that's heard on this recording.
"…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
Originally issued in the Century series in 2005,this EARLYMUSIC set by the artists of harmonia mundi now returns to invite you to travel the centuries in music. In 10 CDs and more than 12 hours listening, this unique guide will allow you to (re)discover the music of the past and develop your musical knowledge. Each CD is accompanied by a detailed booklet dealing with the musical, historical and geographical context, closely linked with key elements from the visual arts of the appropriate period. From the ancient world to 1600: the pleasure of discovery is complete, for eyes and ears alike!
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.