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Première recording of the original 1712 version,
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This review is from: Handel - Il Pastor Fido (1712 first version) La Nuova Musica/David Bates (Audio CD)
After Handel's dramatic explosion onto the London stage in 1711 with Rinaldo, his next work to be composed for the English capital was "Il Pastor Fido". By comparison it is a shorter and relatively understated and unambitious work, and in form and style much more like an extended cantata or serenata than an opera.
The libretto was adapted by Giacomo Rossi from a well-known play by Battista Guarini, a tragicommedia pastorale, but massively cut down - the plot had to be explained to the audience in the printed wordbook. The pastoral themes enabled Handel to recycle some of the texts and music from the pastoral cantatas he had composed during his Italian sojourn. It is possible that this was something of a filler work by Handel, saving his energies for his third London opera Teseo which ran later that same season.
It didn't seem to be all that popular with the punters, performed only seven times in its first season. It was however revived, rewritten and expanded, in May 1734 for thirteen performances and again with an extended ballet prologue "Terpsicore" by the famed dancers of Marie Sallé and new arias for Carestini in November of the same year for a further five performances.
Surprisingly perhaps, this is the first recording of the original 1712 version. It's all solid performances by La Nuova Musica and the vocal artists (Lucy Crowe, Anna Dennis, Katherine Manley, Madeleine Shaw, Clint van der Linde & Lisandro Abadie), but as intimated earlier, don't expect any great fireworks here. If you like Handel's cantatas you will undoubtedly like this too, but dramatic opera it is not.
The two discs come packaged in a digipak inside a hinged cardboard box, along with a well-presented booklet which supplies some brief but interesting notes, a comprehensive and very useful synopsis, libretto and translations.