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Handel's Operas, 1726-1741 Hardcover – March 20, 2014
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Together with the previous volume, Dean has provided an invaluable reference to what he no doubt sees as the essential point: keeping Handel's works alive on the stage for a long time to come. OPERA QUARTERLY We are fortunate to have Dean's erudite and enthusiastic advocacy of these splendid works. Handel's Operas provides essential reading for scholars, a warning for directors, information for opera-goers...and a source of great pleasure for anyone interested in 18th century culture. A delight. MUSICAL TIMES (Patricia Howard)Dean's book is clearly outstanding, and is essential reading for anyone who wants to discover almost everything there is to know about these fascinating works. SUNDAY TIMES (Hugh Canning)The writing is throughout an object lesson to those who with half (or less) of Dean's scholarly knowledge would blind us with obtuse and convoluted language. It is this above all that will surely ensure Handel's Operas a place on the shelves of the general enthusiast.GOLDBERG (Brian Robins)No music library or ardent Handelian should be without it. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE (5 Stars)It is not fanciful to insist that without Winton Dean's invaluable devotion to Handel scholarship many of his subsequent colleagues would have remained fumbling in the dark for decades. GRAMOPHONE (David Vickers)An important book - a minor miracle. OPERAThere are riches in this book...Again and again Dean's descriptions leap off the page with a vividness that compels attention. The reader is gripped not only by the elegance and wit of his style but also by the sense that this writer...is truly a man of the theatre. EARLY MUSIC TODAYMonumental, encyclopedic, indispensable, not-to-be-superseded...essential reading. EARLY MUSIC Dean's accomplishment is extraordinary , and his work is of monumental significance. NOTESDean's comments...are illuminating and often powerfully evocative...This book and its predecessor are a remarkable achievement. MUSIC & LETTERSA critically important book, bursting with information that, as with Dean's earlier books, will likely remain important and relevant after many years. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MUSICOLOGICAL SOCIETY
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There are certain drawbacks. The issue of performance practise is naturally outside the scope of such a book, but to look away from the many results investigation in performance practise at Handel's time altogether seems anachronistic in 2006. Another aspect is the rather rough matter of fact assessments made in evaluating the libretti without taking into account the baroque semiotics. The baroque emblemata which are crucial to the understanding of the early modern society altogether, are simply not touched upon, instead we get useless comparisons with Verdi and other romantics. Here Dean simply misses the point. The focal point of these problems is of course scientifically the rather outdated perspective of evolution, betrayed in such phrases as i.e. "[...] two primitive clarinets (chalumauxs) [...].".
This book is however valuable, when one keeps in mind Dean's general lack of theoretic reflection and his, at times, lack of interest in cultural history. You will certainly not sense that Dean has brought new material into consideration from his first book on the early Handel-operas. As such it is a perfect follow-up where one wouldn't believe more than 30 years separate these two works. Of course, one could wish for more reflection and less pedantry, but you will most likely find a lot of information that is not available elsewhere.