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Handel's Operas, 1704-26 [Hardcover]

Winton Dean , John Merrill Knapp
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 1986
After two centures of near-total neglect, Handel's operas are now increasingly popular in the theatre, but modern productions are hampered by dependence on obsolete and inaccurate editions, and by ignorance of the musical and theatrical practice of Handel's age. Although Handel's autographs and performing scores have long been available, they have never before been fully studied, still less the very early manuscript copies. The manuscripts have yielded a great deal of unknown music, besides throwing fresh light on Handel's methods of composition and performance practice.
This book covers Handel's first seventeen surviving operas, including his greatest and most successful. Each opera has a chapter, with a full synopsis of the libretto (including all original stage directions) and a comparison with its literary and dramatic sources. Each chapter covers the history of the opera in performance and the different versions in the manuscripts. Every known surviving manuscript has been examined. Eight appendices cover all performances in Handel's time, borrowings, modern revivals, new information on his singers, and a complete index of Italian first lines in all Handel's works.

About the Authors:

Wynton Dean is the author of Handel's Dramatic Oratorios and Masques. John Merrill Knapp is Emeritus Professor of Music at Princeton University.

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One of the great monuments of musical scholarship of our day - a mine of information lucidly delved, sharply stimulating...a pleasure to read for its crisply expressed, infinitely discerning and above all loving responses to the works themselves. FINANCIAL TIMESThis volume is a monument to the source-critical method. It is a rigorous investigation of the bewilderingly abundant musical and literary sources of each opera, and its most lasting influence will be on future editions of Handel's music. EARLY MUSICThis is a volume that every listener to or viewer of Handel's operas will want to purchase, and examine at length...Top marks for this reissue. FANFARE --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book about Handel's Operas July 19 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The interest in Handel's stage music has risen considerably in the last few decades, and one really needs a book like this for an in-depth reference about the genesis and analysis of his operas. Here one can find a bit about Handel's life as well, but the main focus is on the musico-dramatic structure of his works. I found the author's analysis of Handel's usage of da-capo conventions to create living characters particularly illuminating. The only warning to the potential buyers: this volume talks only about the operas written until 1724, so it does not include analyses of such major works as Alcina, Serse or Ariodante. We still have to wait for the next volume.
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5.0 out of 5 stars For those who love the operas of Handel June 11 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book delving in depth into the story, historical background, musical significance and the casting of each of Handel's over 40 operas. The book makes a great case for including some of these operas into the standard repertory of all opera producing companies. It also eloquently dismisses most of the myths and outdated traditions surrounding these great works. It is a must have for opera impresarios, producers and music directors.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book about Handel's Operas July 19 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The interest in Handel's stage music has risen considerably in the last few decades, and one really needs a book like this for an in-depth reference about the genesis and analysis of his operas. Here one can find a bit about Handel's life as well, but the main focus is on the musico-dramatic structure of his works. I found the author's analysis of Handel's usage of da-capo conventions to create living characters particularly illuminating. The only warning to the potential buyers: this volume talks only about the operas written until 1724, so it does not include analyses of such major works as Alcina, Serse or Ariodante. We still have to wait for the next volume.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Depth and Easy To Read Aug. 25 2005
By C. Counts - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a remarkable book. I have been an avid Handel fan since before it was fashionable and I can't tell you how many times I have referred to this book. It contains incredible history and facts, as well as insights into the libretto (including plot structure), relationships of arias to other compositions (= Handel's famous "borrowing"), instrumentation, etc. A real wealth of knowledge.

I have been waiting since 1995 for Volume II where Handel's best (and conversely, most pathetic) works would be analyzed. Sadly, I understand that Mr. Dean has since passed away and thus, I doubt that I will ever see the work completed. If any of you out there are musicologists and/or music historians, please consider filling in this disappointing gap!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best from the best Nov. 30 2010
By Renato Baserga - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
this is a scholarly book on Handel's operas, there is a 2nd volume that treat the operas after 1726. Both are by Dean Winton and he is the best critic on Handel's operas, and Handel's operas are the best Baroque operas. A winning combination. There is not much else to say. If you like Handel's operas, and you wish to understand them better, this book and its companion are a must.
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