"This set contains 8 operas by Handel in 22 CDs. In many ways, this box is a mix-bag: some of them performed in the "traditional style" with severe cuts, and others in "historically-informed" performances. Selection includes some of the most popular Handel operas and some of the rarely-performed. It's the latter category that one should pay closer attention.
The best reason to buy this box-set? It contains recordings not found elsewhere. The only recording of Handel's Lotario is out-of-print and the third party seller is charging more than this box's worth. Another opera "Alessandro" is simply unavailable here. (Currently, it's available at Amazon's DE site for almost 200 Euros!) Furthermore, Kuijken's Partenope is probably still the better of the 2 available recordings. These 3 operas alone makes this box compulsory buy for any die-hard Handel fans. Other CDs in this box for various reasons are mostly out-of-print anyway.
However, the other 5 operas featured here faces strong competition from newer, more complete and perhaps better recordings. Furthermore, the booklet in the box contains only brief synopses. NO LIBRETTI! I will list the content of the box so that the reader can make his/her own purchase decision. (Currently, Amazon's page has no information whatsoever besides a picture of the box!)
Note that this set has no overlaps with Alan Curtis' box-set Handel: Six Operas. However, it does have 2 overlaps with Rene Jacobs' box-set Handel: Operas - Flavio, Giulio Cesare & Rinaldo.
1. Rinaldo, 3 CDs, performed by Jean-Claude Malgoire, La Grande Écurie et La Chambre du Roy 2. Julius Caesar (Giulio Cesare), 2 CDs, Julius Rudel, New York City Opera 3. Tamerlano, 3 CDs, Jean-Claude Malgoire, La Grande Écurie et La Chambre du Roy 4. Rodelinda, 3 CDs, La Stagione 5. Alessandro, 3 CDs, Sigiswald Kuijken, La Petite Bande (René Jacobs, Sophie Boulin, Isabelle Poulenard) 6. Lotario, 2 CDs, Alan Curtis, Il Compresso Barocco 7. Partenope, 3 CDs, Sigiswald Kuijken, La Petite Bande 8. Serse, 3 CDs, Jean-Claude Malgoire, La Grande Écurie et La Chambre du Roy"
Two operas out of eight cannot be bought elewhere
KC | London, England | 02/03/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a rather unusual box set. It has some rather lack lustre, but competent, recordings alongside two operas that are unobtainable elsewhere. Both Alessandro and Lotario are currently not in the catalogue unless they are bought as part of this box set. The Giulio Cesare is famous for being the production that shot, the late, great, Beverley Sills to fame in the late 60's. However, it is both a heavily cut opera set and it has the alto role of Cesare transposed to Bass-Baritone. The other operas are all HIP. But as an earlier reviewer stated they have been superceded by more recent recordings.
The best of the eight sets included are Partenope and Alessandro, conducted by Kuijken and Lotario, conducted by Curtis. Both Partenope and Alessandro are good performances. Rene Jacobs is much better in Alessandro (it was recorded about nine years after Partenope, and Jacobs evidently, improved his technique significantly). Unfortunately, Lotario is an edited version allowing it to fit onto two discs. No doubt, this fact, combined with the dissapointment of Handelians when an edited version was issued, led to the recordings withdrawal from the catalogue in its own right.
Each opera is in an individual coloured set of cardboard sleeves. As you can imagine their are no libretti. The track titles and lists are given on each cardboard wallet and there is one booklet repeating the track listing, with a synopsis. This box set offers a mixed bag of Harmonia Mundi's back catalogue. However, at a reduced price it is a pretty reasonable bargain.
AMAZON! Get It Together!
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 05/20/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Here's a 22-CD BOX of Handel's operas - at least six of them, though you'll have to squint at the picture of the box to discover which - but there's no identification of the performers, not a word about the orchestras or conductors, and with a price tag around $75.00!
Ah, but wait! What's this? You can buy the MP3 download for $3.98! Such a deal! But remember your Latin: CAVEAT EMPTOR
(My one-star rating has nothing to do with the quality of this offering. I'm not foolhardy enough to buy it on the basis of the amazon product page.)
BUT HERE'S THE GOOD PART! There's an alternative box of six Handel operas on 17 CDs, performed by Il Complesso Barocco, with many of the best "HIP" singers of recent decades, for a slightly lower price. And the amazon product page includes 568 samples from the set. That's approximately three hours worth of samples! Enjoy!
Later note: The Good Samaritan, Y.P., has generously done amazon's job and posted the information about the eight operas and the performers, in another review of this box."
Essential for Alessandro
Virginia Opera Fan | Falls Church, VA USA | 03/13/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This set is an essential for Handel completists in that it includes Kuijken's excellent "Alessandro." It is one of Handel's best operatic creations - not quite in the league of "Alcina," "Giulio Cesare," "Tamerlano," or "Rodelina" but still an involving piece. The CD set has been difficult to obtain and exorbitantly expensive as an import until now. Thanks to Sony/DHM for including this standout in an otherwise mixed bag and allowing me to complete my collection of Handel's surviving operas. For that and the excellent "Lotario" it gets a fourth star.
I've owned the other operas, the Malgloire "Tamerlano" excepted, in their earlier issues for some time. The "Lotario" is recent vintage (2004) and Curtis bowed to commercial pressures to fit the opera onto two discs by cutting the "B" section and da capo of six arias. The recitatives are also judiciously trimmed. The performance is a very good one. The "Lotario," Kuijken's "Partenope," and the "Alessandro" are the high points of the set.
The old RCA set of "Giulio Cesare" is cut, re-arranged, and the title role re-assigned to bass-baritone. Even so, recording is still worthwhile for Sills. Her trills in "V'adoro pupille" are extraordinary. Inauthentic casting aside, Norman Treigle's singing in the title is still interesting and I maintain a long held affection for Maureen Forrester's rich contralto.
Schneider's "Rodelinda" is a fairly dull affair that is not helped by Barbara Schlick's accurate but pallid singing in the title role. When it appeared, the old Westminster set with Stich-Randall was the studio alternative. The opera is now better served on Virgin Veritas (Nicholas Kraemer) and Archiv (Alan Curtis).
Finally, there is the trio of Malgloire conducted productions from CBS from thirty years ago, give or take. There are some good voices in the casts, but the scrappy sound of the period orchestra was (and is) a trial. I acquired the "Rinaldo" and "Serse" when they were pretty much the only game in town and opted for Gardiner's rival set of "Tamerlano" at the time. Sampling from this set confirms that decision. For "Tamerlano" go with Petrou's outstanding recent recording on MDG. For "Rinaldo" I have been satisfied with the Decca/Hogwood set. I am not up to date on the "Serse" discography as I have found the BMG/Conifer set (McGegan) perfectly adequate.
Given the bargain price, librettos are understandably absent and notes are confined to brief synopses of the plots.
As an indication of Sony/RCA/DHM's quality control, page 11 of the booklet contains the following documentation on the "Tamerlano": "Recorded 1983 at Church Notre-Dame de Liban, Paris, USA." Who would have thought Kentucky or Texas hotbeds of Handel opera performance? "