PERFORMER: Les Arts Florissants/Christie
CATALOGUE NO: Virgin 640 7082 (2004)
With an ancient setting like Aida’s – this time Persia in the fifth century BC Handel’s Serse comes over well in a live recording made at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris in 2003. William Christie masterminds proceedings with his stylish Les Arts Florissants in the pit.
The work (1738) is unusual among Handel’s Italian operas in being essentially a comedy, with many graceful arias, some influenced by Handel’s English contemporaries, such as Arne.
The cast is strong throughout, led by Anne-Sofie von Otter in the title role, Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz as his beloved Romilda, Lawrence Zazzo as his brother and rival Arsamane and Sandrine Piau as Atalanta, whose amorous interventions cause huge confusion. George Hall