Here is what is probably Handel’s most accomplished opera: the heir to L’incoronazione di Poppea with respect to the villainy of some of its characters, but also the Baroque ancestor of certain Romantic operas! Scrupulously based on historical characters, this work illustrates many different facets of the human soul, and also boasts perhaps the most sumptuous orchestral textures Handel ever conceived, magnificently brought out by Lars Ulrik Mortensen in this production from the Copenhagen Opera. Francisco Negrin’s transposition of the opera to the universe of modern war and Anthony Baker’s refined designs place Andreas Scholl (Giulio Cesare) and the other soloists in an unsettling, crepuscular atmosphere that is highly contemporary.
This unique collection, newly remastered from original Philips recordings, documents the work of Dutch conductor Eduard van Beinum in Baroque and Rococo repertoire. Thanks to his celebrated recordings of Romantic composers – many of them reissued on previous Eloquence releases – such as Berlioz (ELQ4825569), Brahms (ELQ4429788) and Bruckner (ELQ4807068), the conductor has a solid reputation as a classically unfussy, clear-sighted guide through the formal intricacies of large-scale symphonies. His score-driven approach and highly tuned ear for orchestral colour also made him a renowned conductor of Russians such as Tchaikovsky (ELQ4804849) and Rimsky-Korsakov as well as English composers including Elgar (ELQ4804249) and Britten (ELQ4802337).
This luxurious set containing 39 CDs, 3 DVDs, 1 CD-Rom and four detailed booklets will tell you the full story of Baroque opera in Italy, France, England, and Germany. No fewer than 17 complete operas (including two on DVD) and two supplementary CDs (the dawn of opera, Overtures for the Hamburg Opera) provide the most comprehensive overview of the genre ever attempted! The finest performers are assembled here under the direction of René Jacobs and William Christie to offer you 47 hours of music. An opportunity to discover or to hear again the masterpieces of Baroque opera, some of which have been unavailable on CD for many years.
Preceded by a solemn prologue in which Iride admonishes mortals that they should not offend the gods, the story of Cavalli’s Didone comes to life thanks to numerous solo passages of highly varied character and structure, designed both for simple basso continuo support and for a more complex instrumental accompaniment, for five real parts which enjoy some independent moments and which create a diversion from the action or blend in with it in a wholly logical way, intensifying it in a studied, evocative manner.
Faustina Bordoni was one half of Handel’s so-called ‘Rival Queens’ for just under three seasons (172628), and in 1730 she married Hasse in Venice – so Vivica Genaux’s recital of arias for Faustina by Handel and Hasse is such an obviously sensible idea that it’s amazing it hasn’t been done before. Quantz praised Faustina’s immaculate articulation and excellent trills – and Genaux lives up to that vocal artistry brilliantly with the copious trills and arching melodic phrases in the long but lovely ‘Piange quel fonte’ from Hasse’s Numa Pompilio.
Rich, smooth, creamy, and very, very warm, Renée Fleming's soprano pours all over the music of George Frideric Handel like melting chocolate. From the voluptuous Oh sleep, why dost thou leave me through the luxurious Endless pleasure to the opulent Calm thou my soul, Fleming's voice fulfills the heart and soul of Handel's music. Better yet, Fleming sounds like she really means it. Each aria has its own emotional character and each aria has its own musical personality.
Handel’s English oratorios, though unstaged, generally remain vividly theatrical. Samson is less operatic, opening with the hero already defeated, blinded and in chains, long after Dalila’s seduction and subsequent treachery.
The drama is of the mind rather than of action, with virtually no incidents in Act I, and Act II limited to two encounters, Dalila offering remorse and the giant Harapha mocking the captive.
Nicholas McGegan’s approach focuses on this depiction of states of mind and emotions. Tempos are reflective rather than animated, while instrumental expression and phrasing is strikingly subtle. Of his soloists, Thomas Cooley makes a tragic Samson, from his first soliloquy on his mental anguish, through a heart-rending ‘Total eclipse’ to his humility and returning strength in Act III.
Betrayal, revenge, inheritance conflicts and forbidden love at the Persian court: in 1728 this explosive mixture inspired Handel to compose the successful opera 'Siroe, Re di Persia', one of his last compositions for the Royal Academy of Music at the King’s Theatre. Handel based his work on the libretto by the famous poet Pietro Metastasio. In its first season 'Siroe' was performed on 18 successive evenings, but was never subsequently revived in Handel’s lifetime.