The Art-Music Forum
November 21, 2019, 02:55:16 am
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
News: Here you may discover hundreds of little-known composers, hear thousands of long-forgotten compositions, contribute your own rare (non-copyright) recordings, and discuss all the Arts in an erudite and decorous atmosphere full of freedom and delight. To participate, simply log in or register.
 
  Home Help Search Gallery Staff List Login Register  

Which are the most successful of Handel's operas - and why?


Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Which are the most successful of Handel's operas - and why?  (Read 349 times)
Reiner Torheit
Guest
« on: April 30, 2009, 10:34:40 pm »

We are all getting ample chance to listen to most of Handel's operatic output in his anniversary year.

But which do we think are the most successful of the operas - and why?

SERSE, GIULIO CESARE, & RODELINDA seem to be performed and recorded more frequently than the others - is this any indication, or is it more of a self-fulfilling prophecy,  selling works to a public which clings onto the few pieces it has heard and recognised?   The winsome subtleties of ORLANDO and OTTONE, or indeed the glamourous bravura of RINALDO and RADAMISTO seem to score poorly with both opera companies and recording labels.

What "makes" a successful Handel opera, and why are some more successful than others?  A credible and gripping story in the libretto?  Some arias which have acquired independent life on "greatest Handel aria" albums of solo performers like Scholl, de Niese, Daniels, or Connolly?  Subtle and elegantly-scored numbers such as those set in the Egyptian court of Cleopatra in GIULIO CESARE (with its array of exotic harps and lirone-viols)?

And which recordings have you particularly enjoyed?  The question of interpretation seems more vital to the success of these works than with later operas.  For example I have enormously enjoyed the William Christie/Arts Florissants performance of SERSE.  However, I recently bought the McGegan/Hanover Band recording (downloaded MP3 from Amazon) of the same and I'm completely underwhelmed - ickle-pritty playing without any conviction, singing that seems more suited for Choral Evensong than the opera-house, and no sense whatsoever of the comic situations which underscore the witty libretto.  Dearie me Sad

For anyone as yet unconvinced by the splendours of Handelian opera, even the credit-crunched might be tempted to reach out for this gripping performance (despite the absence of "star names" in the cast):
Report Spam   Logged

Baziron
Guest
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2009, 10:57:01 am »

...What "makes" a successful Handel opera, and why are some more successful than others?  A credible and gripping story in the libretto?  Some arias which have acquired independent life on "greatest Handel aria" albums of solo performers like Scholl, de Niese, Daniels, or Connolly?  Subtle and elegantly-scored numbers such as those set in the Egyptian court of Cleopatra in GIULIO CESARE (with its array of exotic harps and lirone-viols)?

Good questions Reiner. As one who has never yet immersed himself in Handel opera I have to say that your second category applies to me (i.e. many selections/arias with supposedly 'independent lives' are well known). However I have always felt guilty that knowing Handel primarily to have considered himself an operatic composer I have always been content in my limited way to know his oratorios, sacred choral works, instrumental music and concertos. It is, therefore, time for me to remedy this defect.

I plan to visit HMV in Oxford Street in the coming week, and shall eagerly search out the Naxos recording you recommend. When I have sufficiently immersed myself in its glories I shall write further.

Baziron
Report Spam   Logged
Reiner Torheit
Guest
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2009, 12:04:01 am »

In the interests of saving your pennies in the current economic climate, I believe you would save over a fiver if you purchased this item from Amazon Sellers rather than HMV - not counting your travel costs to Oxford Street either Smiley

Kevin Mallon is the former harpsichord continuo player for Christie, and as you might expect he has a somewhat similar approach - which suits me fine Smiley   It's a robust and cheerfully theatrical performance, replete with sound-effects where they are clearly needed - there is some excellent thunder & lightning during the sorceress Armida's storm-music in Act I  (during which the libretto mentions her "crossing the sky in a chariot").  The singing is tidy and stylistic - of course the whole idea of recording improvised ornamentation on the da-capo sections for posterity won't appeal to all (it doesn't to me), but leaving them unornamented would be worse still.  Mallon has taken a bold path with these, and I feel it's justified - it gives reason to the repeats, and leaves you waiting for the ornamented version...  which must surely be what Handel's audiences expected too? 

If you are plunging into Handelian opera, RINALDO - his first piece for London, and clearly written to please - is an excellent starting point.  Although it has only one truly well-known "hit" aria that's widely-known from recital albums today, the score is a string of glistening pearls...  not least being the harpsichord-obbligato aria (borrowed from AGRIPPINA) Vo far guerra, and Rinaldo's bravura numbers "Venti, Turbini!" (with violin obbligato) and a somewhat Purcellian "Trumpet Tune" aria of victory, "Or, la tromba!".  And, of course, there's "Lascio ch'io pianga" too Wink

Perhaps it lacks the musical subtleties that decorate the score of GIULIO CESARE...  or the elegant and strikingly modern "romantic comedy" libretto elements of SERSE (the opera in which he "breaks all his own rules").  But there's a concentrated energy to RINALDO that's quite unique in the "heroic" style that's well worth the listening-time, I feel  Smiley
Report Spam   Logged

Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum


Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy