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By George Frideric Handel (Georg Friedrich Händel)
|Handel. Alessandro. (HWV 21,
London 1726). Pan Classics PC 10273 (3 CDs, August 2012).
Michael Form, Deutsche Händel-Solisten. Alessandro:
Lawrence Zazzo, countertenor; Rossane: Yetzabel Arias
Fernández, soprano; Lisaura: Raffaella Milanesi,
soprano; Tassile: Martín Oro, countertenor; Clito:
Andrew Finden, baritone; Leonato: Sebastian Kohlhepp,
tenor; Cleone: Rebecca Raffell, contralto. Live
recording from the Händel-Festspiele Karlsruhe, February
(HWV 21, London 1726). Decca 4784699 (3 CDs, August
Video. George Petrou, Armonia Atenea. Alessandro: Max
Emanuel Cencic, countertenor; Rossane: Julia Lezhneva,
soprano; Lisaura: Karina Gauvin, soprano; Tassile:
Xavier Sabata, countertenor; Leonato: Juan Sancho,
tenor; Clito: In-Sung Sim, bass; Cleone: Vasily
Khoroshev, countertenor. Studio recording. The first recordings of
Alessandro in 26 years will be released
Alessandro. (HWV 21, London 1726). dhm 1C 157-16 9537 3
(4 LPs 1985), reissued by EMI on 3 CDs as 7 47910 8, and
reissued in 1990 by BMG as dhm Editio Classica GD 77110.
Sigiswald Kuijken, La Petite Bande. Alessandro: René Jacobs,
countertenor; Rossane: Sophie Boulin, soprano; Lisaura: Isabelle
Poulenard, soprano; Tassile: Jean Nirouët, countertenor; Clito:
Stephen Varcoe, bass; Leonato: Guy de Mey, tenor; Cleone: Ria
Bollen, contralto. To save a few cents, EMI carefully excised
the English translation from the facsimile libretto copied in
the LP edition, but they reportedly included the English version
in the booklet with the CD reissue.
Reissued (April 2011).
|Handel Opera Collection. Sony dhm
CDs, April 2009).
Details. This reissue includes the Sigiswald Kuijken recording of
Alessandro, which had been out of print for many years.
The best of the remaining opera recordings are Lotario
(Curtis), Partenope (Kuijken) &
Of these, only Schneider's Rodelinda has been superseded
by a clearly superior recording. The others are of little or no interest: Malgoire's lackluster
Rinaldo, Serse & Tamerlano and the comically
incompetent old Rudel recording of Giulio Cesare. No
librettos are included, nor are they available online.
Alessandro is an above-average Handel opera, and this still ranks as above
average recording, despite a typically affected performance by René
Jacobs. (At least he didn't direct.) As usual, Sigiswald Kuijken sought to honor
the composers intentions with an actual historically-informed performance. There
are no reorchestrations with strumming guitar, organ, or harp, as found on
numerous more recent baroque opera recordings. It's a typically fine studio
recording by the great Dr.
Thomas Gallia and Klaus L. Neumann. In his liner notes, SK wrote:
In our production of the opera we have tried
to stay as close as possible to the original production. When in
doubt, we generally followed Handel's autograph (which differs,
however, from the original production at some points).
Furthermore, for reasons of musical taste we have incorporated a
few small emendations which were later made, simply because we
found them more colourful and interesting; they were taken from
Handel's conducting score (in the Hamburg Staats- und
Universitätsbibliothek), which was the principal source for the
version published by Chrysander in the old Complete Edition of
Handel's works. The Italian libretto of the London premiere was
also of great help.
It's interesting to note how many members of Kuijken's
orchestra went on to successful solo and conducting careers.
Here is the list from the Alessandro LP booklet:
La Petite Bande
Antoinette van den Hombergh
Richte van der Meer
Jaap ter Linden
Donna Hyry Agrell
Pierre de Boeck
For reasons known only to the marketing department at BMG, the Editio
Classica reissue was not released in North America, whereas the Editio Classica
reissue of Partenope, originally released seven years earlier than
Alessandro, was marketed in North America. Moreover, Partenope
has been kept in print continuously, while Alessandro was allowed to go out of
print for the third time in the early 1990s. With no better recording of Alessandro
on the horizon and Handel operas more popular than ever,
reissuing this CD with a libretto and liner notes would seem
like a foolproof way for Sony to make some easy money with minimal
investment. (Update 2011: Sony finally reissued the dhm recording, which had
been out of print for about 15 years.)
Steffani. La superba d'Alessandro. (Hanover 1690). Libretto by
Ortensio Mauro. "A slightly altered version was given there in 1691 with the
title Il zelo di Leonato, but Rolli followed the original version." (Strohm,
page 53). The Hamburg performances of 1726 featured Steffani's recitatives,
translated into German, and Handel's arias.
Winton Dean. Handel's Operas, 1726-1741 (Boydell Press 2006).
R. Strohm. "Handel and his Italian opera texts." Essays on Handel and the
Italian Opera. (Oxford University Press 1985).
Le magazine de l'opera-baroque page on Alessandro