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Handel: Alcina

Box Set

4.4 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews
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Audio CD, Box set, April 14, 2000
$22.87 $4.30

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In celebration of 20 years of extraordinary music-making, William Christie and Les Arts Florissants have completed with promises to be the definitive recording of Handel's rarely heard masterpiece ALCINA. Christie has assembled a trio of top international stars in the leading roles. The young American divas Renee Fleming, soprano, and Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano in the trouser role of Ruggiero, are partnered with French coloratura Natalie Dessay. Recorded live in Paris, this is flawless singing that does full justice to Handel's richly virtuosic vocal lines.


Here it is: one of the year's most hotly anticipated opera recordings, made during an acclaimed live production in June 1999 at the Paris Opera, which more than lives up to the promise. Handel's operas--the center of his creative life before oratorios became the focus--have spent far too long in limbo awaiting rediscovery, which slowly started happening in the late '60s with works such as Giulio Cesare. But whether Handelian opera is still a novelty or you're already a rabid convert, this emotionally resonant, crisply played, superbly cast interpretation under William Christie and Les Arts Florissants is likely to shake up some of your ideas about the composer. On the surface, Alcina's Ariosto-based story about a sorceress whose spell is finally broken seems like the typically absurd fare of baroque opera. But as the story of misaligned loves unfolds in an incredible succession of some 28 arias, it's clear that these performers are reaching for deeper profundities present in Handel's music, so that Alcina really becomes a story of transformation in the fullest sense. And while Handel may have written for singers trained in ego but myopic to the larger artistic picture, the dream cast of divas gathered here seem to constantly be plumbing emotional truths--and how wonderfully they work as an ensemble, even through the pile-up of arias that is the score's substance. Just one example: consider how Renée Fleming makes Alcina's huge Act II aria "Ah! mio cor" a central epiphany and turning point of the opera. It defies belief that this is Susan Graham's first baroque opera, so rich is her variety of invention and deep her musicality as Ruggiero, the one to break free of Alcina's spell, while the spun-silk soprano of Natalie Dessay adds yet another color to the multitude of female voices that dominate here. Les Arts Florissants (taking an A pitch value of 415, for the record) play with constantly ravishing engagement, immediately apparent from the trill-happy overture. You don't want to miss this one. --Thomas May

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Alcina : Sinfonia (William Christie)
  2. Alcina : Menuet (William Christie)
  3. Alcina : Musette (William Christie)
  4. Alcina : Act 1 "Oh Dei! quivi non scorgo alcun sentiero!" [Bradamante, Melisso, Morgana] (William Christie)
  5. Alcina : Act 1 "O s'apre al riso" [Morgana] (William Christie)
  6. Alcina : Act 1 "Questo è il cielo de' contenti" [Chorus] (William Christie)
  7. Alcina : Act 1 "Ecco l'infido" [Bradamante, Melisso, Alcina] (William Christie)
  8. Alcina : Act 1 "Di', cor mio, quanto t'amai" [Alcina] (William Christie)
  9. Alcina : Act 1 "Generosi guerrier" [Oberto, Melisso, Bradamante] (William Christie)
  10. Alcina : Act 1 "Chi m'insegna il caro padre?" [Oberto] (William Christie)
  11. Alcina : Act 1 "Mi ravvisi" [Bradamante, Ruggiero, Melisso] (William Christie)
  12. Alcina : Act 1 "Di te mi rido" [Ruggiero] (Susan Graham)
  13. Alcina : Act 1 "Qua dunque ne veniste" [Oronte, Bradamante] "Io sono tua difesa" [Morgana, Bradamant (William Christie)
  14. Alcina : Act 1 "E gelosia" [Bradamante] (William Christie)
  15. Alcina : Act 1 "Io dunque" [Oronte, Morgana] "La cerco in vano" [Ruggiero, Oronte] (William Christie)
  16. Alcina : Act 1 "Semplicetto!" [Oronte] (William Christie)
  17. Alcina : Act 1 "Ah, infedele, infedel!" [Ruggiero, Alcina] (William Christie)
  18. Alcina : Act 1 "Sì, son quella!" [Alcina] (William Christie)
  19. Alcina : Act 1 "Se nemico mi fossi" [Bradamante] "Bradamante favella?" [Ruggiero] (William Christie)
  20. Alcina : Act 1 "La bocca vaga" [Ruggiero] (William Christie)
  21. Alcina : Act 1 "Fuggi cor mio" [Morgana, Bradamante] (William Christie)
  22. Alcina : Act 1 "Tornami a vagheggiar" [Morgana] (William Christie)

Disc: 2

  1. Alcina : Act 2 "Col celarvi a chi v'ama" [Ruggiero] "Taci, taci, codardo" [Melisso, Ruggiero] (William Christie)
  2. Alcina : Act 2 "Qual portento mi richiama" [Ruggiero] (William Christie)
  3. Alcina : Act 2 "Ah! Bradamante!" [Ruggiero, Melisso] (William Christie)
  4. Alcina : Act 2 "Pensa a chi geme d'amor piagata" [Melisso] (William Christie)
  5. Alcina : Act 2 "Qual odio ingiusto contro me?" [Bradamante, Ruggiero] (William Christie)
  6. Alcina : Act 2 "Vorrei vendicarmi" [Bradamante] (William Christie)
  7. Alcina : Act 2 "Chi scopre al mio pensiero" [Ruggiero] (William Christie)
  8. Alcina : Act 2 "Mi lusinga il dolce affetto" [Ruggiero] (Susan Graham)
  9. Alcina : Act 2 "S'acquieti il rio sospetto" [Alcina, Morgana] "E la tua pace" [Morgana, Alcina, Rugg (William Christie)
  10. Alcina : Act 2 "Ama, sospira" [Morgana] (William Christie)
  11. Alcina : Act 2 "Non scorgo nel tuo viso" [Alcina, Ruggiero] (William Christie)
  12. Alcina : Act 2 "Mio bel tesoro" [Ruggiero] (William Christie)
  13. Alcina : Act 2 "Regina, io cerco in vano" [Oberto, Alcina] (William Christie)
  14. Alcina : Act 2 "Tra speme e timore" [Oberto] (William Christie)
  15. Alcina : Act 2 "Regina, sei tradita" [Oronte, Alcina] (William Christie)
  16. Alcina : Act 2 "Ah! mio cor!" [Alcina] (William Christie)
  17. Alcina : Act 2 "Or, che dici, Morgana?" [Oronte, Morgana] "All'offesa, il disprezzo giunge l'ingrata (William Christie)
  18. Alcina : Act 2 "E un folle" [Oronte] (William Christie)
  19. Alcina : Act 2 "Eccomi a' piedi tuoi" [Ruggiero, Bradamante, Morgana] (William Christie)
  20. Alcina : Act 2 "Verdi prati" [Ruggiero] (William Christie)
  21. Alcina : Act 2 "Ah! Ruggiero crudel" [Alcina] (William Christie)
  22. Alcina : Act 2 "Ombre pallide" [Alcina] (William Christie)

Disc: 3

  1. Alcina : Act 3 Sinfonia (William Christie)
  2. Alcina : Act 3 "Voglio amar e disamar" [Oronte, Morgana] (William Christie)
  3. Alcina : Act 3 "Credete al mio dolore" [Morgana] (William Christie)
  4. Alcina : Act 3 "M'inganna, me n'avveggo" [Oronte] (William Christie)
  5. Alcina : Act 3 "Un momento di contento" [Oronte] (William Christie)
  6. Alcina : Act 3 "Molestissimo incontro!" [Ruggiero, Alcina] (William Christie)
  7. Alcina : Act 3 "Ma quando tornerai" [Alcina] (William Christie)
  8. Alcina : Act 3 "Tutta d'armate squadre" [Melisso, Ruggiero, Bradamante] (William Christie)
  9. Alcina : Act 3 "Sta nell'Ircana" [Ruggiero] (William Christie)
  10. Alcina : Act 3 "Vanne tu seco ancora" [Melisso, Bradamante] (William Christie)
  11. Alcina : Act 3 "All'alma fedel" [Bradamante] (William Christie)
  12. Alcina : Act 3 "Niuna forza Io arresta" [Oronte, Alcina] (William Christie)
  13. Alcina : Act 3 "Mi restano le lagrime" [Alcina] (William Christie)
  14. Alcina : Act 3 "Già vicino è il momento" [Oberto, Alcina] (William Christie)
  15. Alcina : Act 3 "Barbara!" [Oberto] (William Christie)
  16. Alcina : Act 3 "Le lusinghe, gl'inganni" [Bradamante, Alcina, Ruggiero] (William Christie)
  17. Alcina : Act 3 "Non è amor, nè gelosia" [Ruggiero, Alcina, Bradamante] (William Christie)
  18. Alcina : Act 3 "Ah! mio Ruggier, che tenti?" [Alcina, Ruggiero, Bradamante] "Misera, ah, no!" [Alcin (William Christie)
  19. Alcina : Act 3 "Dall'orror di notte cieca" [Chorus] (William Christie)
  20. Alcina : Act 3 Entrée (William Christie)
  21. Alcina : Act 3 Tamburino (William Christie)
  22. Alcina : Act 3 "Dopo tante amare pene" [Chorus] (William Christie)

Product details

  • Performer: Renee Fleming, Susan Graham, Natalie Dessay, Kathleen Kuhlmann, Timothy Robinson, et al.
  • Orchestra: Les Arts Florissants
  • Conductor: William Christie
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (April 14, 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Erato Disques
  • ASIN: B00004NK26
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,575 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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