Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Handel - Theodora / Hunt, Minter, Lane, J. Thomas, D. Thomas; McGegan
The failure of Handel's Theodora apparently didn't faze the composer at all. He told the librettist that "The Jews won't come because it is a Christian story, and the ladies won't come because it is a virtuous one!" It's a... more »
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The failure of Handel's Theodora apparently didn't faze the composer at all. He told the librettist that "The Jews won't come because it is a Christian story, and the ladies won't come because it is a virtuous one!" It's a great line. He also said that the music would sound better in an empty hall, and whether you accept that or not, there's no question that this late work is a masterpiece. It was also Handel's favorite oratorio, and this is quite simply the finest performance of it available. --David Hurwitz
Beautiful melodies; great singing; crisp conducting.
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of Handel's great operas, "Theodora" would work either in concert or in performance. There are many beautiful melodies and the strong conducting keeps things moving along. Lorraine Hunt is one of the great Handel singers of our time and is in lovely voice as Theodora; she performed Irene (the mezzo role) at Glyndebourne several years ago and won rave reviews from the English press. Drew Minter and Jennifer Lane are also very good but Hunt is the star. This would be a great addition to the CD collection of anyone who admires Handel's work."
The best Theodora? An alternate opinion
Marian R. Van Til | Lewiston, NY United States | 02/08/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"While Nicholas McGegan has obviously done much excellent work, I'm afraid I can't agree with the reviewer who said that McGegan's rendition of *Theodora* is the best available. In fact, I'd rate it No. 3, with the new (last year) recording by Neumann at No. 2, and putting McCreesh and the Gabrielli Consort in first place. (And Harnoncourt at No. 4.) It's revealing to listen to the same selected arias/choruses from each of these three recordings one after another. McGegan's recording sounds like it was done in somebody's living room, with the soloists standing about six feet away from you: there's very little presence to the sound. While that helps articulate the texture (the harpsichord is audible far more than in other performances), the dryness and "closeness" of the sound I find unappealing. On the other hand, Neumann's performance, in terms of recorded sound, is muffled in comparison. The McCreesh recording has a depth -- that "presence" I was looking for in the McGegan recording -- while being crisp and clean at the same time.
McGegan's tempos are fast compared to the other two, bordering on ragged here and there. Partly that's due to the not-quite- stellar quality of his U of C chamber chorus at those tempos. (McCreesh's and Neumann's choruses are noticably better). Interestingly, McCreesh also includes six or so additional recits/arias which aren't often sung but which are certainly worth hearing.
Assuming groups of soloists of approximately the same ability, whether one likes the tone quality of one soprano or countertenor more than another is very much a matter of taste, so I won't comment specifically on individual soloists. Except to say that I was surprised (unpleasantly) by David Thomas's seeming difficulty with some of the melismas and other fast passages on the McGegan recording. I normally like Thomas, so that was a disappointment.
Incidentally, the McGegan recording is also more expensive than any of the others. It's not worth the extra money, in my view."
Fine Recording Of A Magnifcent Work
Thomas H. Moody | Nobleboro, ME United States | 07/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, it's too bad that Harmonia Mundi has "retired" it's McGegan recordings with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson since she was one of the best Handel performers of our era.
That being said, I've recently been listening to this recording again and find it on equal with the McCreesh and Christie - in it's own right.
First of all there's Hunt as Theodora. Her voice is full bodied and takes command of the performance. While McCreesh and Christie have cast lighter voices as Theodora with excellent results, hearing a voice such as Hunt's sing the role is actually more satisfying in the end, her phrasing and attention to detail is without peer.
Drew Minter attained fame during the re-emergence of the countertenor. Since that time the countertenor vocal technique has advanced and we now get larger, fuller and more vibrant voices singing these roles such as Daniels, Scholl, Taylor, Asawa, and Zazzo. That doesn't mean that Minter should be relegated to the past or have his sound criticized. His performance here is quite committed and appropriate.
Jennifer Lane is also a highly regarded Handelian and sings the role of Irene with great pathos. David Thomas is a vocalist who can sometimes sound great and sometimes not so great - all within one recording. His performance here isn't weak, more its at times just a little unpredictable. Tenor Jeffrey Thomas is every bit as good as his competition in a very florid Handel role.
McGegan, is in my opinion, was/is always a little too careful sounding in his approach. He seldom let's things take on a bit of "a bite" which can make many of his recordings sound somewhat placid and linear.
As for chorus and orchestra, this is obviously an American recording from its sound as compared to British recordings of Handel. One thing is that the listener can always tell what words the soloists and chorus are singing without reverting to the libretto. I can't quite say the same for the Mcreesh and Christie recordings.
The sound, as mentioned by another reviewer, does sort of muddy the orchestra and chorus. The recording could use a remastering in my opinion.
So, although this recording is out of print, one should seek it out for the performance of Hunt alone. It also gets 5 stars from me for the same reason - Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.
Harmonia Mundi please rerelease your Lorraine Hunt Lieberson recordings!!
Such artistry should not be denied the listening public!! Lorraine didn't leave us with many recordings and to deny us these wonderful earlier performances of hers is a travesty.
P.S. How I wish the Christie recording had all of the Glynbourne cast as its soloists, not just Richard Croft. A missed opportunity. But do get the Sellars/Christie DVD. Amazing performance!!