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Admeto, Rè di Tessaglia
By George Frideric Handel (Georg Friedrich Händel)
Admeto, Rè di Tessaglia. (HWV 22, London 1727).
Forthcoming. Alan Curtis, Il Complesso Barocco.
Ercole: Johannes Weisser, baritone; Orindo: Marianne Beate
|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.
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.
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.
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