Andrew Palmer, Group Editor

Classical Music: Handel Amadigi

Handel Amadigi

Early Opera Company
Christian Curnyn

Tim Mead countertenor (Amadigi); Patrick Terry countertenor (Orgando); Anna Dennis soprano (Oriana); Mary Bevan soprano (Melissa); Hilary Summers (Dardano)

Chandos CHSA 0406(2)

This Handel Opera was first performed in London, in 1715, in the first season under the reign of George 1, at the King’s Theatre on the Haymarket.

The libretto has all the ingredients that make a good opera plot full of complex twists where the lovers Amadigi and Oriana are imprisoned by the sorceress Melissa (who seeks Amadigi’s love).
His ally Dardano turns against Amadigi, his former friend, when he realises that they both love Oriana and he sides with Melissa. Her plans are repeatedly foiled, and true love triumphs at the final curtain!

The drama wrapped up in love, envy and scheming coupled with joy, passion and sadness is brought to life by Christian Curnyn’s skilful interpretation of the score as he creates wonderful theatrical elements. The recording was made at St Jude on the Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, and the balance between the ensemble is great.

Curnyn is conducting an excellent small orchestra that has rhythmic pace, beautifully supporting the singers. Of note is oboist Katharina Spreckelsen, trumpeter Dave Hendry, plus the recorders which have some wonderful moments.

Glorious singing too especially from Tim Mead as Amadigi, his lovely countertenor fluid tone enabling him to pull the listener into his character. Anna Dennis’ Oriana is splendid in the D minor Sarabande, 'Pena tiranna aria', the emotional centre of the opera, supported by the orchestra and Zoe Shevlin’s lovely bassoon playing. Mary Bevan as Melissa adeptly tackles the fast runs in 'Vanne lungi dal mio petto' superbly well.

There are many sublime moments from all the musicians and the orchestra only moments (Overture, Sinfonia) are excellently executed; all in all this disc makes for an attractive and enjoyable example of Handel’s early Italianate style and, as one of his shorter operas, a fine introduction to the genre.