"The first of two volumes in a long-awaited study by two preeminent Handel scholars....Essential for all music libraries."--Choice
"Offers an enormous amount of valuable information and many new and perceptive insights. Scholars and general readers alike can learn from it."--The New York Times Book Review
"A rigorous investigation of the bewilderingly abundant musical and literary sources of each opera...its most lasting influence will be on all future editions of Handel's music."--Early Music
After two centuries of near total neglect, Handel's operas - nearly forty of them - are becoming increasingly popular in the theatre. However, despite tremendous advances in musicological research in recent years, there is still nothing approaching a reliable edition of the operas, and modern productions are still hampered by dependence on obsolete and inaccurate editions, and by ignorance of the musical and theatrical practice of Handel's age. This work takes the story as far as the spring of 1726, when the Italian singer Faustina Bordoni arrived in London, and covers Handel's first seventeen surviving operas including many of the greatest and most successful. Each opera has a chapter to itself which includes: a full synopsis of the Libretto (including the original stage directions); comparison between the Libretto and its literary and dramatic sources; a discussion of the music with special emphasis on its dramatic power; and a history of the opera in performance General chapters deal with the "Opera Seria" convention and Handel's treatment of it; the operatic background in the three countries where he worked; the operas of his contemporaries and rivals; audiences and performance practice; and other related matters. Eight appendices list all performances in Handel's time (with location of librettos), borrowings, modern revivals, new information on his singers, and a complete index of Italian first lines in all Handel's works. The book is intended for Handelians, students and scholars of music, opera, and theatre in the eighteenth century.
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