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Handel: Fernando


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Audio CD, February 6, 2007
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Product Details

  • Performer: Lawrence Zazzo, Veronica Cangemi, Marianna Pizzolato, Antonio Abete, Max Emanuel Cencic, et al.
  • Orchestra: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (February 6, 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Virgin Classics
  • ASIN: B000FIHZM8
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,334 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Ouverture. Largo
2. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Ouverture. Allegro
3. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Ouverture. Allegro
4. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 1. Scene 1. Recitativo. Di mio padre al furore
5. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 1. Scene 1. Recitativo accompagnato. Voi miei fidi compagni
6. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 1. Scene 1. Coro militare. Alla strage, alla morte, alla vittoria!
7. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 1. Scene 2. Recitativo. Madre e regina
8. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 1. Scene 2. Recitativo accompagnato. Rasserena, Isabella
9. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 1. Scene 2. Aria. Rendi 'l sereno al ciglio
10. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 1. Scene 3-4. Recitativo. Giusti numi
See all 33 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 2. Scene 8. Recitativo. Grazie al Cielo
2. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 2. Scene 8. Duetto. Per le porte del tormento
3. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 2. Scene 9. Recitativo. S'oggi smorzasti l'ire
4. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 2. Scene 9. Aria. Alle sfere della gloria
5. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 2. Scene 10-12. Recitativo. Alfonso amato
6. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 2. Scene 10-12. Aria. Vado al campo
7. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 2. Scene 13. Recitativo. Mio sposo, ahi! qual orrore
8. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 2. Scene 13. Aria. In mille dolci modi
9. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 2. Scene 14. Recitativo. Parmi che un dolce raggio
10. Sosarme, re di Media, opera, HWV 30: Act 2. Scene 14. Aria. Vola l'augello dal caro nido
See all 25 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Written in 1732, this opera has a curious history. The libretto, anonymously adapted from a text by Antonio Salvi, concerns the Spanish King Fernando, who undertakes to make peace between the warring Portuguese King Dionisio and his rebellious legitimate son. He is aided by Dionisio's selfless illegitimate son, his Queen, and his daughter Elvida, to whom he is betrothed, and is hindered by a treacherous Councilor pursuing his own agenda. This unflattering portrait of Portugal's royal court might have offended Britain's oldest ally, so half-way through composing the opera, Handel changed the locale and the characters' names, and re-titled it Sosarme, Re di Media. Unaccountably, he eliminated many of the narrative recitatives before the first performance, making the story less coherent and the characters less affecting.

On this recording, however, director Alan Curtis has restored the work to its original form, textually, musically and dramatically. The result is vintage Handel. The melodies are meltingly lovely; the orchestration is transparent but colorful. The music evokes and enhances the moods and images of the words: teasing dissonances and their resolution illustrate "woe" and "joy," deceptive cadences treachery. Of the seven roles, only one is a bass (the villain, naturally). Two lyrical countertenors represent the noble peacemakers, and two clarion tenors are the feuding hotheads. The mezzo-soprano is a movingly suffering Queen; her lamentations and reproaches are riveting. Elvida's soprano runs the gamut of emotion, from tremulous anxiety (with rests and hesitations), courage and determination (with stratospheric flights), to rapturous bliss in two love duets with Fernando, where instead of singing only to each other as usual, they sing together. All the parts are extremely demanding, with much florid coloratura to which the singers add further ornamentation in the da capos. The performance is beyond praise: stylistic, meticulous, clear, expressive, passionately involved, and beautiful in sound. --Edith Eisler

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Luca Begonia on August 22, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I totally disagree with the previous, negative, comment on Curtis' performing of "Fernando". Curtis is one of the most outstanding and renowned Handel's specialists all around the world, and we can easily understand why, even from this recording. The music is exceptional, the singers are much more than just good or mediocre (especially the two countertenors), the irresitible rhythmic drive makes the listening a pure pleasure, and the reconstruction of the original score has a special historical interest. All in all this is what I usually look for in ancient music!!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Nichols on April 26, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Again Alan Curtis has demonstrated that he is the premier interpreter of Handel's operas. The music and singing contained in "Fernando" are very soothing to the ears and uplifts your spirit. Like a fine wine it improves with every successive partaking. Not to wear you out with cliches but it truly is an oasis in an otherwise insane world. Thank goodness there is music like this being produced. If you're a fan of Handel, Baroque music, or Alan Curtis don't walk but run (i.e. click your mouse) and purchase this CD without another moment's hesitation. Don't be dissuaded that there are only two CDs contained herein. The first CD contains 71 minutes of music and the second 77 minutes. Enjoy!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Morten Fuglestad on December 2, 2008
Format: Audio CD
It is not a surprise that Sosarme, Re di Media (which was the name this opera had it's premiere under in 1732) was a huge success. The plot of hostillity between a father and a son is timeless, but in 1732 the relations between King George II and Frideric, Prince of Wales, were ice cold, and was at the centre of gossip and politics in England. The public took interest in the subject and perhaps this issue also was a main inspiration for Handel in composing this opera and choosing this libretto, which probably had been gathering dust on Handel's shelves for about 25 years at this point.

It was probably the touchy relations with Portugal (an important allied to Britain) that made Handel switch the tittle from Fernando, Re di Castiglia to Sosarme, Re di Media, when he set about to compose Act III, and thus change the names of the characters. By this easy change of names Handel showed that the opera was not a commentary on political issues in Portugal, but rather on the theme of reconcilliation of a father and a son.

Charles Burney (a leading historian of music in second half of the 18th century) thought highly of this opera and deemed it one of Handel's best. The first aria (Handel's only aria in B-major) in the opera (I;1), beautifly sung by Veronica Cangemi (Elvida), is very moving and should be "canonised" into the main repetoire of sopranos. Also the duet "Per le porte del tormento" (II;8) is stunning, and Burney mentions this particullary as a true masterpiece. Here Elvida sings together with Fernando (Lawrence Zazzo), and this duet is perhaps worth the two CDs alone.

The tenor Filippo Adami (Dionisio, king of Portugal) has one of the most demanding parts in this opera. Adami is a good actor and infuses the role with a tremendous sense of energy.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Omar Alvarez Pereira on September 18, 2010
Format: Audio CD
The opera «Fernando, re di Castiglia» (1732) by Georg Friedrich Händel deals with the struggle for the Kingdom between Dionisio I of Portugal (Filippo Adami) and his son Alfonso (Neal Banerjee) and how a wicked mind like Altomaro (played by the great bass Antonio Abete) provokes the worst feelings between the both; the aria «Tiene Giove in mano il folgore» was an attempt of Altomaro to justify the most horrible crime or misdeed that a father could commit.

One of the most beautiful arias of this masterwork is «Se discordia ne disciolse», sung by Dionisio, but Lawrence Zazzo as Fernando, the King of Castle is superb; his aria «Mi oporró da generoso» is a great proof of gorgheggi.

Max Emanuel Cencic as the prince Sancio is very good, too and has a very, very powerful voice in spite of he is a countertenor; in his aria «So che il ciel ben spesso gode», he speaks about the injustice in the world and establishes a relationship between Alfonso and Dionisio and the heavens that dropped thunders against Christ. A good comparison! Good performance of Alan Curtis and Il Complesso Barocco!
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23 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Webster Forrest on February 26, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Despite the presence of first rate singers Cangemi, Zazzo and Cencic in this recording, this is one of the most boring recordings of an opera I've heard to date. This must be ascribed to the unimaginative direction by Curtis, a cast otherwise containing competent to mediocre singers and an uninspired ensemble which sounds small and ineffective in the more dramatic moments. The score is not remarkable when compared with "Alcina" or "Tamerlano", however it does contain many items of interest: 'Dite pace', 'Fra l'ombre', 'Cuor di madre' to name but a few. This recording is only worth the purchase as it attempts to recreate Handel's original intention of setting the drama in renaissance Portugal instead of the mythical antiquity of Sosarme, Re di Media. The much older recording with Alfred Deller as Sosarme should remain preferable overall, as it is more energetic and engaging than this present dull recording. What this project needed in my opinion was a Minkowki or a Jacobs at the helm.
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