Handel: “Almira” / Paul O’dette, Emöke Barath, Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra
This opera was premiered in Hamburg, Germany in 1704, when Handel was 19 years old. According to local custom, the recitative is sung in German, and the aria is sung in a mixture of Italian and German. The piece opens with a overture reminiscent of Zelenka’s harmony . The plot is quite simple, but it is followed by a succession of Handel-like arias and, like a French opera, is interspersed with ballet music. Unlike the vast number of his later Italian operas, the castrato does not appear, and the female roles are played by women and the male roles by men. Castrato was originally a practice initiated by the Roman Catholic Church as a “measure” to prevent women from singing in church. At its peak, as many as 4,000 boys a year were operated on, some against their will and others for their parents’ financial reasons. Naturally, in today’s society, this is a practice that should never be allowed to happen. Therefore, it is impossible to reproduce a 100% baroque opera in this day and age. Even so, the “sopranistas” are among the most highly reproducible singers of our time, but they are too few and far between. On the other hand, it is encouraging to see that the number of countertenors who can sing coloratura is increasing.
This is a digression, but it seems that Handel liked the sarabande played in the third scene of Act III so much that he later used it in his oratorio “The Triumph of Time and Enlightenment” in Italy and in his opera “Rinaldo” in London, each with its own lyrics. In this CD, conductor Paul O’dette has enhanced the bass passages with string-repellant instruments (harp and guitar), which makes the performance enjoyable to listen to. In 1704, Handel had a quarrel with his close friend Johann Mattezon, which ended in a duel, but the two reconciled without incident, and Mattezon subsequently sang the tenor role in this opera. #baroque #handel #片山俊幸