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A Night With Handel [DVD] 
The arias of Handel are examined in this performance-based documentary. Performers including John Mark Ainsley, Rosa Mannion and Christopher Robson sing arias from 'Rinaldo', 'Ottone', 'Sosarme', 'Orlando' and 'Rodelinda' in contemporary London setttings, accompanied by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Sultry sopranos and contraltos brood in candle-lit churches or at the top of a shopping mall escalator; a shaven-headed tough menaces enemies with a knife, singing of vengeance and death in a terrifying counter-tenor rasp; a couple sing of fulfilment in the back of a limousine. Jonathan Keates remarks in his accompanying lecture that the heroes and heroines of Handel's opera are real people, whose passions transcend the baroque libretti they are singing; by taking them out of full-bottomed wigs and panniered frocks and putting them at large in contemporary London at night, this interesting documentary reminds us of the immediacy of these arias. This would not work, of course, were not the performances exemplary in their own right and presented with a driving urgency that takes us away from the pieties of the oratorio tradition and reminds us what a superb and popular man of the theatre Handel was. --Roz Kaveney
On the DVD: The DVD comes with the narration in English, French and German, and subtitles in those languages. The arias are also playable as audio only. --Roz KaveneySee all Product description
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21 April 2009
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
An excellent idea of putting together a magic London by night with Haendel's opera arias (some of them not heard so often) with excellent soloists and an original and modern mise-en-scene. A "must" for Haendel fans.
2 people found this helpfulComment
12 October 2001
This was my first ever DVD and I have watched it and listened to it many times. This DVD takes the viewer on a nighttime journey through modern day London, putting the singers in modern day situations (railway station, coffee bar, underground garage!). All the arias are beautiful and are just as beautifully sung. I had heard none of these arias prior to purchasing the DVD, but it became a very enjoyable voyage of discovery. There is an interspersed commentary, succinct and informative, given by experts who obviously love the music of Handel, and who wouldn't? I hope that many people, who just know The Messiah, and other Handel pops, will get the chance to see this DVD and be persuaded to look into the world of Handelian opera more fully, I know I shall. The last aria in particular, the duet "As Steals the Morn" from Il Moderato, is hauntingly lovely. I would give this DVD five stars except I felt the quality of the picture could have been a bit better.
13 people found this helpfulComment
16 July 2000
First shown on channel 4, this is a great introduction to Handel's best arias, brought straight into the 21st century without "losing the plot". Anyone uncertain about opera should take a look - but be careful - it could be addictive.
7 people found this helpfulComment
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