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Briefly Noted: 'Giove in Argo'

available at Amazon
Handel, Giove in Argo, A. Hallenberg, K. Gauvin, A. Z. Giustiniani, Il Complesso Barocco, A. Curtis

(released on April 9, 2013)
Virgin 50999 72311622 | 156'50"

Berenice | Alcina | Ezio
The Handel opera revival continues apace, with the latest work rediscovered being Giove in Argo, first performed at the King's Theater in London on May 1, 1739. The less said about the libretto, a conflation of two of the love affairs of Jupiter in disguise, the better. The performances given by Alan Curtis's ensemble Il Complesso Barocco in 2007 required some reconstructive surgery on a score found only in incomplete sources. The work was carried out for the Hallische Händel-Ausgabe by scholar John H. Roberts, who laid his hands on the two arias known to be part of the opera from its libretto but which until recently had been lost. They turned out to be the work of an Italian composer, Francesco Araja (b. 1709), and Roberts restored them to the score and recreated the bulk of the recitatives, which also are found in no surviving musical source. Price may be enough to tip the scales in favor of this discounted 3-CD set, over the competition by Concert Royal Köln and Kammerchor Würzburg (Musicaphon, 2007), made around the same time as Il Complesso Barocco's first live performances (Alan Curtis did not lead this recording until 2010). Curtis and his ensemble create lithe, beautifully detailed and textured readings of the score, rich in instrumentation for Handel (oboes, bassoons, flute, horns, and trumpet plus strings). Tenor Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani makes much more favorable sounds as Jove than he did in Curtis's recording of Handel's Berenice, Regina d'Egitto, and there are first-rate contributions from pithy mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg and celestial soprano Karina Gauvin. Mezzo-soprano Theodora Baka has some nice moments in the role of Diana, mostly when she keeps her tone as simple and clean as possible, and bass Vito Priante is pleasingly forceful.

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