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Handel's Operas, 1704-1726 [Hardcover]

Winton Dean , John Merrill Knapp
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 60.00
Price: 57.53 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

20 Mar 2014
This first of the classic two-volume survey of Handel's operas was first published in 1987 and reissued in a revised paperback edition in 1995. Now it is brought back into print in a year which has seen numerous productions and recordings of the operas and which marks the 250th anniversary of Handel's death. Their revival in the modern theatre - not a single opera was staged or performed anywhere between 1754 and 1920 - has been among the most remarkable phenomena in the history of the art, and is due in no small measure to the painstaking research of Dean and Knapp in volume one, and Dean himself in volume two, published by Boydell in 2006. This first volume devotes a chapter to each of Handel's first seventeen operas, offering a full synopsis and study of the libretto, extensive discussions of the music, a performance history, and a comparison of the different versions of the opera. In addition there are several general chapters on the historical and stylistic context of Handel's operatic career to 1726, and a number of Appendices including a list of performances during Handel's life and the location of librettos, Handel's borrowings, Handel's singers, and modern stage productions up to the end of 1993. WINTON DEAN is a distinguished Handelian scholar and writer on opera. He is a former vice-president of the Georg-Friedrich-Handel Gesellschaft in Halle and a founding Council Member of the Handel Institute in London. JOHN MERRILL KNAPP died in 1993. He was Emeritus Professor of Music, Princeton University and the editor of two volumes of the German edition of Handel's complete works, and author of The Joy of Opera.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 793 pages
  • Publisher: Boydell Press; Reprint edition (20 Mar 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843835258
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843835257
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 15.6 x 5.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 761,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

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

About the Author

WINTON DEAN is a distinguished Handelian scholar and writer on opera. He is a former vice-president of the Georg-Friedrich-Handel Gesellschaft in Halle and a founding Council Member of the Handel Institute in London. JOHN MERRILL KNAPP died in 1993. He was Emeritus Professor of Music, Princeton University and the editor of two volumes of the German edition of Handel's complete works, and author of The Joy of Opera.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Print poor 22 Jan 2010
Format:Hardcover
The content of this volume is majorly authoritive and speaks for itself, however my criticism is with the quality of print. It has been scanned from a previous publication/source rather than digitally 'rewritten'. The result is many characters that are squished or lack definition, proportion and firm edging. Given the price I felt let down.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential, superb, in-depth scholarship. 13 April 2013
By ****
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Unfortunately there is no 10 star option - this book should get it.

If you love/obessed with Handel and have an appetite for in-depth information, a deeper understanding of his operas, Handel's milieu and the way things happened this book and its companion on the later operas by one of the same authors are both essential.

The quality of scholarship is outstanding and multi-dimensional, almost on a par with the monumental standards set by Liddell & Scott's Greek Lexicon for instance. There is no evidence of jobbing generalist authors turning their attention to Handel, as so many modern works purporting to be scholarly seem to be, nor is there any evidence of some torturous well-nigh unreadable 'academic' theses with rather threadbare 'ideas' to flog.

With Dean & Knapp we get exhaustive information on each opera's performance history, the theatrical background, the borrowings, first lines indices for all arias and much more including general and specific analyses of structure, arias and so on.

The quality of mind or judgement bought to bear on the material is generous, informed, deeply considered, perceptive and as overwhelmed by Handel's genius as many of the rest of us. The writing is highly literate, easy and entertaining and at times betrays a dry ironical wit, probably not unlike Handel's himself - I like for instance the comment that Handel tended to doodle in 3/8 time - or indeed, in another mood, the openness with which Dean admits that it is hard to be measured when discussing 'ombra cara'.

Winton Dean originally produced a vast tome on the oratorios, equally impressive in depth and range as these operas volumes. At that time it seems Handel's operas were not considered equal in quality to his oratorio output.
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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 19 July 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 26 Aug 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 30 Nov 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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