In the history of opera, "Acis and Galatea" occupies a strange niche. Too short and too episodic to really be considered an opera in the true sense of the word, its light, buoyant score has nevertheless survived 300 years because it is just so good. Where else except perhaps in "Messiah" did Handel come up with so many bouyant, heartwarming melodies--"Hush, ye pretty warbling quire," "Shepherd, what art thou pursuing?", "Love in her eyes sits playing," "As when the dove laments her love," "Happy we," "O ruddier than the cherry" and "Love sounds th' alarm"--backed by such sensitive and original scoring? Granted, most of the score tends towards the lyrical than the allegro, but its deceptive simplicity is exactly what makes it a treasure to listen to.
This is the most spirited performance I've heard since the old Sutherland-Pears, and the most transparent playing and singing I've heard since the Gardiner recording, with a lilt and life all its own. Paul Agnew is a good English tenor, Daneman's slightly fluttery soprano sounds uncommonly good as Galatea, Petibon does a nice job with Damon, and Alan Ewing is a fine, rich-voiced Polyphemus (though he, like all other Polyphemuses since the great Peter Dawson, aspirates his runs in "O ruddier than the cherry"). Christie's conducting, which can sometimes sound a bit staid on records, just bubbles over with life here. A must-have for Handelians, or anyone else who likes Baroque music but is not a fan of the vocal frills and furbelows found in most early 18th-century opera.