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Home » Composers » German Composers » GF Handel » Handel Operas » Admeto

Admeto, Rè di Tessaglia

By George Frideric Handel (Georg Friedrich Händel)


Handel. Admeto, Rè di Tessaglia. (HWV 22, London 1727). Forthcoming. Alan Curtis, Il Complesso Barocco. Ercole: Johannes Weisser, baritone; Orindo: Marianne Beate Kielland, mezzo-soprano.
Handel. Admeto, Rè di Tessaglia. (HWV 22, London 1727). Arthaus Musik 101257 (2 DVDs - 196 minutes; 2 CDs of excerpts containing about half of the arias, 2007). An especially repulsive modern staging that I would never buy or watch. Too bad they didn't release a complete audio recording. Howard Arman, Handel Festival Orchestra. Admeto: Matthias Rexroth, countertenor; Alceste: Romelia Lichetenstein, soprano; Antigona: Mechthild Bach, soprano; Trasimede: Tim Mead, countertenor; Ercole: Raimund Nolte, bass; Orindo: Melanie Hirsch, mezzo-soprano; Meraspe: Gerd Vogel, baritone. US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP
Handel. Admeto, Rè di Tessaglia. (HWV 22, London 1727). EMI-Electrola 1C 163-30 808/12 Q (5 LPs 1978). Reissued in 1998 on 3 CDs as Virgin 7243 5 61369 2 2. Alan Curtis, Il Complesso Barocco. Admeto: René Jacobs, countertenor; Alceste: Rachel Yakar, soprano; Ercole & Apollo: Ulrich Cold, bass; Orindo: Rita Dams, mezzo-soprano; Trasimede: James Bowman, countertenor; Antigona: Jill Gomez, soprano; Meraspe & Voce: Max Van Egmond, baritone. US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Almost 29 years after it first appeared, the pioneering production directed by Alan Curtis remains the only complete, HIP audio recording of Admeto. It was the first complete recording of a Handel opera with a baroque orchestra and sounds quite dated in comparison with the best recent recordings, such as Curtis's Deidamia, but the performance is true to Handel's score, unlike many recent recordings by trendy HUP conductors. The CD reissue actually improved upon the original LP edition, a rare occurrence, by including an English translation of the text. Curtis plans to re-record Admeto in the near future.

Admeto probably is the best of the five new operas Handel composed with equal parts for the two prima donnas, Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni. It must have been a favorite of George I, a longtime opera enthusiast who may have been more fluent in Italian than English, as records reflect that he attended about half of the performances. Indeed, the King's first experience with Italian opera was in Hanover in 1679, at the age of 19, when he attended a performance of an Alceste by Mattia Trento, with text adapted from Antonio Aureli's libretto for Ziani (Venice 1660). The text for Handel's Admeto was adapted from the libretto for a 1681 revival of the Hanover opera, probably by Rolli. Reinhard Strohm wrote:

All this may have been known to Handel from his contacts in court circles. His text had in any case links not only with the Hanoverian dynasty in general, but more particularly with King George I himself, who was to confirm Handel as an English citizen on 20 February 1727. It is probable that Handel's Admeto -- with a king under the threat of death in the title-role -- was the last opera seen by George I, who died unexpectedly on 11 June 1727 at Osnabrück, which he had left forty-eight years earlier to see Alceste in Hanover.

R. Strohm, "Handel and his Italian opera texts", page 55. Essays on Handel and the Italian Opera. (Oxford University Press 1985).

Handel transcribed the overture, the sinfonia in Act I, and the superb three-movement overture to Act II for harpsichord. They are in volume 3 of Terrence Best's edition of Twenty Overtures.

Related Operas

P.A. Ziani. L'Antigona delusa d'Alceste. (Venice 1660). Libretto by Antonio Aureli. "An extremely Manneristic piece in which the classical story is almost entirely buried beneath amorous and burlesque elements." Strohm, page 54.

Mattia Trento. L'Alceste. (Hanover 1679). Libretto adapted from Aureli by Ortensio Mauro. Revived with few alterations in 1681.


Winton Dean. Handel's Operas, 1726-1741 (Boydell Press 2006).


Le magazine de l'opera-baroque page on Admeto

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