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Handel - Deidamia / Baird · Harris · Cheek · Fortunato · O'Brien · Castaldi · Palmer
George Frideric Handel, Rudolph Palmer, Brower Chamber Orchestra
Handel - Deidamia / Baird Harris Cheek Fortunato O'Brien Castaldi Palmer
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (21) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (24) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #3


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CD Reviews

At last, Handel's last Italian opera in a worthy performance
Nicholas A. Deutsch | New York, NY USA | 10/22/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a welcome premiere recording of Handel's last Italian opera (1740-41). As with Serse & Imeneo, the 2 that immediately precede it, we would call it a comedy if Shakespeare had written it; like Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte, it has a distinctly bittersweet tone, & the "happy" ending means sorrow for its heroine. The plot is a straightforward take on the mythology of the Trojan War, focusing on the efforts of the Greeks to recruit the young hero Achilles, who has been sent into hiding by his father. In the end the Greeks get their man: Ulysses outwits Achilles' lover Deidamia by feeding Achilles' desire for adventure & fame. (Hanging over the outcome is the prophecy that Achilles will die in the war.) Deidamia's efforts to save her beloved & the rocky course of their relationship inspired Handel to compose the most passionate music in the opera, & give the piece its emotional center. This recording, uncut except for a short scene in Act I, starts with an excellent foundation in the playing of the Brewer Chamber Orchestra under Rudolph Palmer's experienced direction. Then there is outstanding work from soprano Julianne Baird (Deidamia), mezzo-soprano D'Anna Fortunato (Achilles) & bass John Cheek (King Lycomedes, Deidamia's father), all stylish Handelians who know how to make their words count; baritone Peter Castaldi (Phoenix) offers solid support. As to the others, Maire O'Brien does some fine singing as Nerea, Deidamia's confidante, but also sounds unsettled in her 1st 2 arias; as Ulysses (a difficult role) Brenda Harris doesn't always point the text as much as one would like. Still, this is overall a serious & accomplished performance, a credit both to the performers & to producer John Ostendorf. Be warned, however: the English translation of the libretto is full of errors, many of them serious. Admittedly, 18th century operatic Italian can sometimes be convoluted; but there's no excuse for providing an English version which repeatedly obscures, muddles or turns upside down a thought which is perfectly lucid & logical in the original."
Terrific Handel
david gilbert | New York | 06/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I recently heard and loved this new recording of Handel's
last opera. As it is being presented this summer (2002) at the Caramoor Festival--I plan to attend--I wanted some advance knowledge of the score, and was surprised at the superb high quality of the artists performing here--most especially the outstanding soprano Julianne Baird in the title role. Opposite her is the also estimable Brenda Harris who this spring sang the title role of Agrippina so brilliantly at New York City Opera. It's a delight and the biggest success here is Handel's work. Buy it!"
Deidamia is glorious
david gilbert | 11/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If this is Handel's last opera, one wonders in this age of annual "farewell concert tours," the joys of old age and AARP, why he actually stopped. It is glorious music--and this from the pen of the composer who--after deciding never to compose another opera--went on to produce Messiah, Judas Maccabaeus, and Joshua, none of them operas.
What a shame! But as this superb CD's booklet makes clear, his public, "fickle London," simply wasn't interested anymore in Italian plots and da capo airs, in castratos and foreign divas. This is too bad, since Handel gave up not only all these but the production of what comes down to us today: glorious tunes.
Mr. Palmer and his wonderful troop with Julianne Baird at the helm are utterly charming in this, offering the American CD buyer an alternative to the customary stranglehold placed on this material by their British counterparts.
Bravo. Go out and buy it and congratulations to Albany in landing this wonderful performance team. Maybe there's a still-unknown Handel work for them to hunt up??? Good work."