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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
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Morten Fuglestad (Norway) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Handel's Operas, 1726-1741 (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 The focal point of these problems is of course scientifically the rather outdated perspective of evolution, betrayed in such phrases as i.e. "[...]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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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
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Ms. A. E. M. Bradley (East Anglia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Handel's Operas, 1726-1741 (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Good factual information storehouse but lacks something, 2 Sep 2007
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Marcolorenzo (Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Handel's Operas, 1726-1741 (Hardcover)
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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Handel's Operas, 1726-1741
Handel's Operas, 1726-1741 by Winton Dean (Hardcover - 20 Mar 2014)
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