Amor e gelosia: Opera Duets

Erato | Track Listing

Georg Händel
with Patrizia Ciofi

Il Complesso Barocco
Alan Curtis, Conductor

In baroque opera, the spotlight was usually reserved for the bravura arias, designed to show off the singers’ brilliant coloratura and skill in improvising ornamentation. The ensembles, on the other hand, were left to languish in the shadows. This record aims to right that wrong in a program of 17 duets drawn from 13 mostly unfamiliar Handel operas. In an attempt to create some cohesion, these primarily short selections are arranged under the heading “Love and Jealousy,” with love predominating and usually prevailing. If the title sounds a bit gimmicky, never mind: the music’s the thing and it is wonderful. Expressed with Handel’s inimitable dramatic intensity and deeply felt inwardness, it encompasses every amorous emotion from tenderness, ardent protestation and rapturous joy to fear of loss, anguish and mournful farewell, using an infinite variety of form, texture and character. Some duets begin with a recitative; the voices separate and unite, conversing, interweaving, joining in imitation or harmony. The orchestra, a period-instrument group of soloists, provides introductions, interludes and postludes which set mood and atmosphere and contribute greatly to contrast and diversity. The performances are splendid. The two singers prove that the duet is as fertile a vehicle for virtuosic display as any aria, and they find plenty of opportunities for ornamentation in the da capos. Their voices can blend and merge as well as remain distinctly individual in timbre and color, and they succeed in creating, or at least suggesting, situations and personalities even in the shortest selections. The playing is impeccable: rhythmically crisp and pungent, texturally transparent, and very expressive. The only cavil is that the selections often follow each other without a pause, making it difficult to be sure where one ends and the next begins. –Edith Eisler

The term 'instant classic; is overused and oxymoronic, but certain records proclaim their durability at first hearing. A new CD of duets from Handel operas, 'Amor e Gelosia' ('Love and Jealousy'), on Virgin, is one.

The New York Times

Album info

Release date: June 1, 2004
Number of Discs: 1
Format: Studio
Label: Erato