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Cat. No. CHAN 0650 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 0650 - Handel: Handel At The Opera
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Available From: 17 February 2000
Although Handel subsequently became famous as a composer of English oratorios, it was Italian opera that first brought him to London. In 1710 the five-year-old Italian opera company at the new theatre in Haymarket was in need of a composer to provide interesting new works. The twenty-five-year-old Handel having successfully proved himself with two operas in Italy, was looking for a suitable place in which to develop his career. His arrival towards the end of 1710 marked the beginning of an association with Italian opera in London that would last thirty years.

Handel was able to provide music for his singers which both displayed their individual musical strengths and contributed to the overall shape of the dramas. While the conscious planning of a ‘hit number’ as part of a stage production is a relatively modern practice, many earlier composers (including Handel) achieved this result almost by accident as themes and movements were taken and remembered long after the original productions from which they were derived had come to an end. In any case a good operatic composer naturally worked in such a way as to make the evening at the theatre musically attractive and memorable for the audience. This recording brings together some movements, vocal and orchestral, from Handel’s operas that have achieved independent popularity, though not always in their original form.

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