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Home » Composers » German Composers » GF Handel » Handel Operas » Alessandro


By George Frideric Handel (Georg Friedrich Händel)


Handel. Alessandro. (HWV 21, London 1726). Pan Classics PC 10273 (3 CDs, August 2012). Booklet (pdf). 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 2012. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Handel. Alessandro. (HWV 21, London 1726). Decca 4784699 (3 CDs, August 2012). Video. Booklet (pdf). 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 simlutaneously. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Handel. 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. US | UK | DE | FR | JP
Reissued (April 2011). US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Handel Opera Collection. Sony dhm 88697489402 (22 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) & Rodelinda (Schneider). Of these, only Schneider's Rodelinda has been superseded by a clearly superior recording.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. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP

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

Violine 1
Alda Stuurop
François Fernandez
Dirk Verelst
Natsumi Wakamatsu
Marinette Troost
Janine Rubinlicht

Violine 2
Staas Swierstra
Mary Utiger
Antoinette van den Hombergh
Enrico Gatti
Mariette Holtrop
Myriam Gevers

Ruth Hesseling
Nicolette Moonen
Ghislaine Wauters

Richte van der Meer
Rainer Zipperling
Jaap ter Linden

Nicholas Pap
Jean-Michel Forest

Ricardo Kanji
Koen Dieltiens

Pol Dombrecht
Taka Kitazato
Michel Henry
Marcel Ponseele

Danny Bond
Donna Hyry Agrell

Piet Dombrecht
Claude Maury

Friedemann Immer
Kay Immer

Robert Kohnen
Herman Stinders

Konrad Junghänel

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.)

Related Operas

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

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