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Home » Composers » German Composers » GF Handel » Handel Operas » Arianna in Creta

Arianna in Creta (1734)

By George Frideric Handel (Georg Friedrich Händel)


Handel, Arianna in Creta - Chrysander (HG) score (pdf).


Handel. Arianna in Creta. (HWV 32, London 1734). Naïve. Forthcoming? (Uncertain after the death of Alan Curtis.) Il Complesso Barocco. Arianna: , soprano; Teseo: Ann Hallenberg, mezzo-soprano; Carilda: , soprano; Tauride: , mezzo-soprano; Alceste: , soprano; Minos: Johannes Meisser, baritone.
Handel. Arianna in Creta. (HWV 32, London 1734). MDG 609 1375-2 (3 CDs, January 2006). George Petrou, Orchestra of Patras (period instruments), Opus Femina. Performer biographies and scan of the Argument. Arianna: Mata Katsuli, soprano; Teseo: Mary-Ellen Nesi, mezzo-soprano; Carilda: Irini Karaianni, soprano; Tauride: Marita Paparizou, mezzo-soprano; Alceste: Theodora Baka, soprano; Minos / Il Sonno: Petros Magoulas, bass. Both this Arianna and Petrou's subsequent Tamerlano are among the finest recent recordings of Handel operas. Although both were recorded by the same engineer, Holger Speckel, possibly in the same venue, there is more reverberation in Arianna than in Tamerlano, which approaches acoustical perfection. Arianna suffers slightly in comparison but the recorded sound still is very good, with natural representation of the singers and instruments. You can hear the harpsichords, and there has been no manipulation to exaggerate the lute, as on a number of recent recordings. Conducting, singing and playing are excellent. The same can't be said for the confusing libretto and some of the arias. See Dean (2006) and the Argument (reproduced below) to get a grasp of the plot. Carestini's first aria (Teseo) is about as non-Handelian a piece as you will find in a Handel opera. It's a fiendishly difficult, bravura aria in the modern, Neapolitan style. Handel transposed the music for Carestini down a tone after the latter's arrival in London. A number of arias for both Carestini and Scalzi had to be rewritten or transposed when it was discovered that their vocal ranges were lower in pitch than Handel had believed. In the liner notes, David Vickers speculates that the misunderstanding may have arisen due to the lower pitch in the west Italian opera houses. US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP
Handel. Arianna in Creta. (HWV 32, London 1734). Christophe Rousset, Les Talens Lyriques. Arianna: Sandrine Piau, soprano; Teseo: Kristina Hammarström, mezzo-soprano; Carilda: Ewa Wolak, soprano; Tauride: Ann Hallenberg, mezzo-soprano; Alceste: Anne-Lise Sollied, soprano; Minos / Il Sonno: Evguenyi Alexiev, baritone. Several years ago it was reported that this production would be released on CD, but apparently that is not going to happen.
Handel. Arianna in Creta. (HWV 32, London 1734). Göttingen Handel Festival recording. (3 CDs 1999). Review by Kirk McElhearn. Nicholas McGegan. Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Arianna: Sophie Daneman, soprano; Alceste: Christine Brandes, soprano; Teseo: Wilke te Brummelstroete, mezzo-soprano; Tauride: Cécile van de Sant, mezzo-soprano; Carilda: Jennifer Lane, mezzo-soprano; Minos: Philip Cutlip, bass; Il Sonno: Tilmann Prautzsch, baritone. Sold by the German Handel Society.

The Argument

The Political Enmity of the Athenians against Minos, King of Crete, was the Cause of their having Androgeos, his Son, kill'd on their Land, after that Archeus, Prince of Thebes, and Confederate with them, had stole his Daughter, but just born, and who, notwithstanding, was carefully preserv'd and brought up as his own, under the name of Ariadne. This irritated Minos to wage a bloody War against them, in the Course of which (the Gods uniting their Wrath with the Cretan Arms) they were reduc'd to the last Extremity. They then consulted the Oracle, which gave for Answer, That to put an End to the Miseries of Athens, they must by all Means appease Minos. Peace was obtain'd of the offended King, but with an Agreement, that then, and every seven Years, they should send to Crete a direful Tribute of seven young Men, who were appointed to serve in the Plays instituted to the Honour of Androgeos, where all died, and as many Damsels to give to the Minotaur, to be devour'd, drawing at their Arrival which of the Unhappy should first be made the miserable Victim. The fatal Law further bore, that it should continue for ever, unless there came some Champion, who, to save the Victims, should offer himself to overthrow the Monster, to come out of the intricate Ways of the Labyrinth, and fight Tauris, Son of Vulcan, a Man of a most fierce Nature, and provided he overcame him, he should for ever free the City of Athens from so grievous a Tribute. The Time of the third Homage being come, Theseus, Son of Aegeus, went to offer himself, stimulated as well by a generous Virtue of relieving his oppressed Country, as by an impatient Desire to see Ariadne, who thought the Daughter of Archeus was kept Hostage with Minos. He undertook the two Combats, and by the favourable Assistance of Ariande, sav'd Carilda, beloved by his Friend Alcestes, and gain'd at last his dear Ariadne, putting a glorious End to the Calamities of his Country.

Related Operas

Conti. Teseo in Creta (Vienna 1715). Libretto by Pietro Pariati. The Minotaur does not appear on-stage.

Leo. Arianna e Teseo (Naples 1721). Included only two of Pariati's aria texts. A pasticcio with arias by Porpora, Orlandini, Bonocini and Vivaldi. Two of Handel's aria texts came from the 1721 libretto but were not in the 1729 libretto. The fight with the Minotaur is on-stage, but not the fight with Tauride.

Leo. Arianna e Teseo (Rome 1729). The version from which Handel's libretto is primarily derived. Both the fights with the Minotaur and Tauride are on-stage. None of Pariati's aria texts survive in Handel's version.

Porpora. Arianna in Nasso. (Opera of the Nobility, London 1733). This competing Arianna was composed hastily on a different libretto arranged by Rolli after the Nobility learned that Handel was working on an Arianna opera.

Porpora. Arianna e Teseo (Venice 1727). Porpora's previous setting of a version of Pariati's 1715 libretto, arranged by Domenico Lalli.


Winton Dean. Handel's Operas, 1726-1741 (Boydell Press 2006). Summarizes significant new information published in La carriera di un librettista, Pietro Pariati Reggio di Lombardia, edited by Giovanna Gronda (Il Mulino, Bologna 1990).

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

Reinhard Strohm. Dramma per Musica: Italian Opera Seria of the Eighteenth Century. Details. Yale University Press, 1997. 326 pages. Contents include: Arianna in Creta: musical dramaturgy. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP


Giovanna Gronda's entry on Pietro Pariati from the New Grove.

Le magazine de l'opera-baroque page on Arianna in Creta

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