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Handel's Operas, 1726-1741 [Hardcover]

Winton Dean
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: £60.00
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Book Description

20 Mar 2014
Handel ranks with Monteverdi, Mozart and Verdi among the supreme masters of opera, yet between 1754 (when Handel was still living) and 1920 not one of his operas was performed anywhere. Their revival in the modern theatre has been among the most remarkable phenomena in the history of the art. But they are still too little understood, or studied, and until recently no reliable modern editions existed. This long-awaited book is the sequel to l>Handel's Operas 1704-1726/l>, published in 1987. It is the first study in depth of Handel's last twenty-two operas, including major masterpieces such as l>Orlando/l>, l>Ariodante/l> and l>Alcina/l> and the brilliant lighter works l>Partenope/l>, l>Serse/l> and l>Imeneo/l>. Each chapter contains a full synopsis and study of the libretto, a detailed assessment of the opera's musical and (often misunderstood) dramatic qualities, a performance history, and comparison of the different versions. Much new material has been incorporated. In addition four general chapters throw a vivid light on the historical background. Two Epilogues touch on Handel's dramatic vision, the revival of his operas in the twentieth century, and their performance today. There are a number of valuable Appendices. Together with its predecessor, the book provides the first complete overview of these works. WINTON DEAN is the most distinguished British authority on the life and work of Handel; he has also written extensively on opera in general.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 602 pages
  • Publisher: Boydell Press (20 Mar 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843832682
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843832683
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 15.9 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 794,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Together with the previous volume, Dean has provided an invaluable reference to what he no doubt sees as the essential point: keeping Handel's works alive on the stage for a long time to come. OPERA QUARTERLY We are fortunate to have Dean's erudite and enthusiastic advocacy of these splendid works. Handel's Operas provides essential reading for scholars, a warning for directors, information for opera-goers...and a source of great pleasure for anyone interested in 18th century culture. A delight. MUSICAL TIMES (Patricia Howard)Dean's book is clearly outstanding, and is essential reading for anyone who wants to discover almost everything there is to know about these fascinating works. SUNDAY TIMES (Hugh Canning)The writing is throughout an object lesson to those who with half (or less) of Dean's scholarly knowledge would blind us with obtuse and convoluted language. It is this above all that will surely ensure Handel's Operas a place on the shelves of the general enthusiast.GOLDBERG (Brian Robins)No music library or ardent Handelian should be without it. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE (5 Stars)It is not fanciful to insist that without Winton Dean's invaluable devotion to Handel scholarship many of his subsequent colleagues would have remained fumbling in the dark for decades. GRAMOPHONE (David Vickers)An important book - a minor miracle. OPERAThere are riches in this book...Again and again Dean's descriptions leap off the page with a vividness that compels attention. The reader is gripped not only by the elegance and wit of his style but also by the sense that this writer...is truly a man of the theatre. EARLY MUSIC TODAYMonumental, encyclopedic, indispensable, not-to-be-superseded...essential reading. EARLY MUSIC Dean's accomplishment is extraordinary , and his work is of monumental significance. NOTESDean's comments...are illuminating and often powerfully evocative...This book and its predecessor are a remarkable achievement. MUSIC & LETTERSA critically important book, bursting with information that, as with Dean's earlier books, will likely remain important and relevant after many years. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MUSICOLOGICAL SOCIETY

From the Publisher

In the Gramophone (March 2007), David Vickers wrote: 'It is
not fanciful to insist that without Winton Dean's invaluable devotion to
Handel scholarship many of his subsequent colleagues would have remained
fumbling in the dark for decades...[he] is enviably brilliant at describing
why certain elements of these operas deserve our utmost admiration.'

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A valuable companion to Handel's late operas 21 Jun 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Winton Dean's book is a real treasure. And anyone interested in Handel's operas will find valuable accounts of the works, the process of writing the operas and what manuscripts are to be found.

There are certain drawbacks. The issue of performance practise is naturally outside the scope of such a book, but to look away from the many results investigation in performance practise at Handel's time altogether seems anachronistic in 2006. Another aspect is the rather rough matter of fact assessments made in evaluating the libretti without taking into account the baroque semiotics. The baroque emblemata which are crucial to the understanding of the early modern society altogether, are simply not touched upon, instead we get useless comparisons with Verdi and other romantics. Here Dean simply misses the point. The focal point of these problems is of course scientifically the rather outdated perspective of evolution, betrayed in such phrases as i.e. "[...] two primitive clarinets (chalumauxs) [...].".

This book is however valuable, when one keeps in mind Dean's general lack of theoretic reflection and his, at times, lack of interest in cultural history. You will certainly not sense that Dean has brought new material into consideration from his first book on the early Handel-operas. As such it is a perfect follow-up where one wouldn't believe more than 30 years separate these two works. Of course, one could wish for more reflection and less pedantry, but you will most likely find a lot of information that is not available elsewhere.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Handel's later operas by Winton Dean 5 Feb 2009
Format:Hardcover
Winton Dean's final volume on the later Handel operas (following his admirable research on the oratorios (1958), and the earlier operas written with Merrill Knapp), is a wonderful milestone in Handel studies. Handel is of course THE genius revered by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven alike. Unfortunately for his later reputation he was unwise enough to move to and work in London. This meant that virtually his entire output was ignored for 200 years after his death in 1759, as the British really only love the word.

Dean's extraordinary industry in working through Handel's enormous and wonderful output, the volumes of which were carefully preserved by the British Royal family, has restored Handel to our time. We can now understand why Handel was so much admired by his peers. Winton Dean's remarkable understanding of Handel and of opera is fully on display in this book, which every lover of both opera and 18th Century music will treasure on their shelf - a remarkable bargain at this price.

David Hyatt King
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Marcolorenzo TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is very important for the study of Handel's late operas, especially Appendix D which lists in detail all the sources of his borrowings both from within the Handel Opus itself and from other composers.
The text is very heavily laden with minute factual details on location of librettos, overly detailed libretto synopsises, historical news items on singers, opera companies, etc. and is not systematic in its treatment of the music, aria per aria, or on the musical relationships within each work. The quality of the musical analysis is uneven, some operas being better treated than others.
A deep emotional familiarity with each of the operas seems to me to be lacking. It may be that Dean had not seen all the operas performed on stage. From such an acclaimed expert one would wish to have more subjective reflection and comments.
There is an interesting Epilogue which treats the performance of the operas on the modern stage, and an appendix which lists all modern stage productions to the end of 2005. These, together with appendix D on borrowings are invaluable.
If you are familar with volume 1, this second volume is less systematic and less convincing concerning the musical analyses. Volume 1 covering the period 1704 - 1726 is a better treatment of that earlier period.
Handel's Operas 1704-1726 r/e (Clarendon Paperbacks)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A valuable companion to Handel's late operas 2 Dec 2008
By Morten Fuglestad - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Winton Dean's book is a real treasure. And anyone interested in Handel's operas will find valuable accounts of the works, the process of writing the operas and what manuscripts are to be found.

There are certain drawbacks. The issue of performance practise is naturally outside the scope of such a book, but to look away from the many results investigation in performance practise at Handel's time altogether seems anachronistic in 2006. Another aspect is the rather rough matter of fact assessments made in evaluating the libretti without taking into account the baroque semiotics. The baroque emblemata which are crucial to the understanding of the early modern society altogether, are simply not touched upon, instead we get useless comparisons with Verdi and other romantics. Here Dean simply misses the point. The focal point of these problems is of course scientifically the rather outdated perspective of evolution, betrayed in such phrases as i.e. "[...] two primitive clarinets (chalumauxs) [...].".

This book is however valuable, when one keeps in mind Dean's general lack of theoretic reflection and his, at times, lack of interest in cultural history. You will certainly not sense that Dean has brought new material into consideration from his first book on the early Handel-operas. As such it is a perfect follow-up where one wouldn't believe more than 30 years separate these two works. Of course, one could wish for more reflection and less pedantry, but you will most likely find a lot of information that is not available elsewhere.
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