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Handel - Aci, Galatea e Polifemo

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo is a product of his early years in Italy, not to be confused with the pastorale Acis and Galatea, written a decade later to an English text. The Italian Aci is a cantata for three voices, really a chamber opera chock-full of gorgeous melodies, many of which Handel lifted for later works. It tells the story of the lovers Aci and Galatea and the jealous giant Polifemo, whose unrequited love for Galatea drives the tragedy. The music ranges from the idyllic to deep, dark arias vividly depicting the characters’ dilemmas.

It demands top-flight singers and gets them here. Piau’s lyric soprano sails lightly through coloratura passages and darkens when the plot turns grim. Mingardo is superb, singing with tremendous feeling in a voice whose richness and ease throughout its range make her depiction of Galatea truly memorable. Naouri’s role may be the most demanding,; requiring a cruelly wide range, from treble A to low D. Just getting those notes would be enough to earn respect, but he not only nails them but sings with feeling, making a real character out of the stage giant. His "Fra l’ombre e gl’orrori" is one of the set's many highlights. The period instruments of Le Concert d'Astrée play with verve and conductor Emmanuelle Haïm paces the work well. A first-rate performance of a neglected Handel masterpiece. --Dan Davis
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Product Details

  • Performer: Sandrine Piau, Sara Mingardo, Laurent Naouri
  • Orchestra: Le Concert d'Astree
  • Conductor: Emmanuelle Haim
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (June 10, 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Erato Disques
  • ASIN: B00008LNSV
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,502 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Leslie Richford on November 8, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This all-French production from the year 2002 is one of those recordings that I, as a Handel and early music fan, can without further ado wax enthusiastic about. The music, originally performed in Naples in 1708, is already typically Handelian and sounds just like one would expect one of his operas or oratorios to sound, and, indeed, Handel later plundered many of the numbers for his stage and sacred works; also, there are many striking similarities to 'La Resurrezione', another work Handel produced during his stay in Italy as a young man. The story is, apparently, based on an old Sicilian legend, and is probably better known in the English-language version that Handel composed many years later in London; this Italian version is, however, completely different, with regard both to the music and the text.

On this recording you get to hear three of today's most exciting young Handel singers and an orchestra (Le Concert d'Astrée) which, although I had never heard the name before, seems to have Handel in its blood, so accurately, so temperamentally does it produce the most delightful Handelian tones. Harpsichordist/director Emanuelle Haim demonstrates her mastery at every step, while her singers (Sandrine Piau, soprano; Sara Mingardo, alto; Laurent Naouri, bass) seem to have a natural gifting for this kind of music which flows and warbles as though Handel had had exactly these voices in mind.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
In my opinion, this is the best performance of this opera available for purchase. Piau, Mingardo, Naouri, and Le Concert d'Astree, are just an unbeatable combination. Beautiful music, enchantingly sung.
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This is one of Handel's earlier works, written 10 years before Acis & Galatea. The singing is excellent throughout and I enjoyed the whole work tremendously. I withheld the fifth star only because I had recently heard a live broadcast on BBC 3, with Charbel Mattar singing the bass part, which to me was better. There is a wonderful bass aria towards the end of the work - Fra l'ombre e gl'orrori - encompassing a range of two and a half octaves - which is the highlight of the work.
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