Handel

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Accent
ALBUM TITLE: Handel: Siroe
WORKS: Siroe
PERFORMER: Yosemeh Adjei, Anna Dennis, Aleksandra Zamojska, Antonio Giovannini, Lisandro Abadie, Ross Ramgobin; FestspielOrchester Göttingen/Laurence Cummings
CATALOGUE NO: ACC 26401

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In 1728, Handel’s opera ran at London’s King’s Theatre for an impressive 18 performances, despite being in direct competition with The Beggar’s Opera a few streets away; but his company collapsed at the end of the season and he never revived it, while in modern times it has garnered less attention than many other titles. This is a shame, as the libretto is a fine one and Handel sets it with power and imagination; both arias and recitatives are unusually strong.

Based very loosely on events in 7th-century Persia, the libretto shows King Cosroe rejecting the rightful claim to the throne of his elder son Siroe while preferring the younger, villainous Medarse. Complications ensue, caused by the king’s beloved Laodice, who has unfortunately fallen for Siroe, and his enemy’s daughter Emira, who turns up in male disguise as Idaspe, determined to kill the father but equally devoted to his less favoured son; these keep the plot going for three action-packed Acts.

This live production from the 2013 Göttingen Festival is far from ideal from a vocal point of view, though all the participants have their points. Yosemeh Adjei’s Siroe is not always in perfect vocal control and suffers from hootiness. As his brother Medarse, Antonio Giovannini’s tone is often unstable. Lisandro Abadie’s Cosroe has presence but some rough edges, while Anna Dennis’s Emira and Aleksandra Zamojska’s Laodice deliver memorable characterisations despite vocal weaknesses.

No complaints about Laurence Cummings’s conducting of the vital FestspielOrchester Göttingen, though there’s a lot of stage noise in the imperfectly balanced recording.

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George Hall