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Klassiek - Verschenen op 9 juni 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.
Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
One should not think that at the time when Handel was around, an opera was a finished product, etched in stone, the score of which was some kind of Holy Grail that would not suffer any tampering with, be it so benign. From that point of view, Handel’s Ottone is a case in point. Some extensive adjustments probably arose from Handel’s collaboration with the famous prima donna Francesca Cuzzoni, who had arrived in London in December 1722, but a fortnight before the first performance, and immediately threw a tantrum. Several of her arias she rejected and had had Handel substitute with entirely different new music. According to Mainwaring’s Memoirs of the Life of the Late George Frederic Handel (1760), having one day some words with Cuzzoni on her refusing to sing the aria Falsa imagine, the composer had shouted, in French: “I know very well that you are a veritable she-devil: but I will show you that I am Beelzebub the Chief of the Devils ” and with this he took her up by the waist, and, if she uttered another word, swore that he would fling her out of the window. This being said, many of the modifications he made during the rehearsal period had nothing to do with Cuzzoni. All in all, eleven arias and one duet were finished but then discarded and replaced before the first performance, and several other arias were considerably revised . It is impossible to determine which changes were instigated by Handel himself on artistic grounds and which were compromises in order to satisfy his singers’ whims and overblown egos. In addition to rejections, redrafts of scenes and wholesale substitutions by Handel during the opera’s composition and preparation, further amendments were also made during its first run . Moreover, he replaced and also added several extra arias for the twelfth performance, which took place on 26 March 1723 after a break of several weeks because of Lent. So: what does “the real” Ottone look like? This recording presents a reconstruction of the complete first performance version, but it also incorporates Handel’s expansions to two scenes reworked especially for Cuzzoni. As an appendix, there are three bonus tracks of new arias composed for the title-role in Handel’s 1726 revival, making it an Ottone as complete as possible. All this extra music will allow the listener to enjoy even more the great voices of the recording, to begin with the countertenor Max Cencic, but also the soprano Lauren Snouffer – who sings the part initially held by the infamous Cuzzoni –, accompanied by the ensemble Il pomo d’oro playing on period instruments and conducted by George Petrou. © SM/Qobuz