Handel: Alcina

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Arthaus
ALBUM TITLE: Handel
WORKS: Alcina
PERFORMER: Naglestad, Coote, Schneidermann; Stuttgart State Orchestra/Alan Hacker; dir.Jossi Wieler & Sergio Morabito (Stuttgart State Opera, 1999)
CATALOGUE NO: 100 338
Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito’s nefarious staging was filmed in 1999, and concentrates on inexplicable shoe fetishism and soprano Catherine Naglestad’s attractively packaged cleavage. It is devoid of charm, and misconstrues notable dramatic and musical aspects of Handel’s score. This bleak and depressing deconstructionist approach refuses to take either the original libretto or da capo convention seriously, and is a joyless, bitter experience.

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Ruggiero’s ‘Sta nell’Ircana’ (featuring horn players on stage) is the highlight of an impressive performance by Alice Coote, but there is little else to redeem Alan Hacker’s misconceived conducting of Alcina’s arias; her lament Ah mio cor!” is too fast and psychotic, the subsequent rage aria ‘Ombre pallide’ sounds too much like a lament, and the great Act III plaint ‘Mi restano le lagrime’ is clumsily abridged.

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Janos Darvas’s unfussy camerawork is the most successful aspect of this DVD. The recorded sound is unexceptional. The disc’s main menu only has cues for the sinfonia and each of the three acts, although a full track-listing is included in the booklet. There is a choice of five subtitle languages, but there are no extra features. Unfortunately, this DVD represents a disappointing miscalculation of little value to posterity. David Vickers