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Handel: Silla / Darlow, Bowman, Baker, Lunn, Nicholls, Et Al


Release Date: 01/23/2001 
Label:  Somm   Catalog #: 227/8   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Simon BakerJames BowmanElizabeth CraggJoanne Lunn
Conductor:  Denys Darlow
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Handel Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

An admirable performance of a rare work.

‘The worst libretto Handel ever set … the construction is clumsy, the characterisation incredible,’ wrote Winton Dean, with his typical panache, in his and Merrill Knapp’s classic book on the earlier Handel operas. Never mind: if one is prepared to accept that Handel’s dramatic muse sometimes nodded, and just enjoy the music for what it is, Silla is amply worth a hearing. It had its first English revival in spring 2000, in the Handel series that Denys Darlow directs at the Royal College of Music, and the present recording is a by-product of those performances.

The opera, probably Handel’s shortest, dates from 1713 and seems, oddly, to have been written for a private
Read more performance at the main London opera house in honour of a new French Ambassador – although there is no certainty that the performance actually took place. The plot, an absurd farrago about the Roman dictator Sulla (‘Silla’ is the Italianised form), here a ruthless murderer who makes unsuccessful grabs at two of the three women in the cast (the third is his wife) and then suddenly repents, seems decidedly inappropriate for a festive occasion, or indeed any occasion at all. It’s the kind of libretto that has got baroque opera a bad name. Its sole merit – and this is quite important – is that it does allow opportunities for a considerable range of musical expression.

Curiously, however, Handel doesn’t seem to have been fully alert to those opportunities. Sulla himself, for example, gets music more amiable than so odious a character seems to deserve (including a truly lovely ‘sleep song’, with recorders), and the music for his wife Metella is often absurdly at odds with the text and her situation. But there are many attractive numbers, notably some telling music for the two pairs of lovers who find themselves threatened by Sulla’s importunities – Lepido and Flavia have two duets, the second a miniature but intensely poignant F minor Adagio, while Celia grieves the (supposed) death of her Claudio in a heartfelt G minor sarabande.

The mainly youthful cast here – these performances traditionally give opportunities to promising young singers – are very successful and I am sure we will hear a lot more of some of them. Rachel Nicholls sings Metella’s music in a pleasant, natural and very even voice, strong and resolute in the big aria that ends Act 2. As Celia, Elizabeth Cragg shows a lighter voice with a hint of an attractively grainy quality; Natasha Marsh’s full and rounded voice rings out to excellent effect in Flavia’s arias.

Except for the brief appearance of ‘Il Dio’, an odd kind of god who encourages Sulla’s ferocity in his dream vision (ably taken by Christopher Dixon), there are no true male voices. Lepido is sung by Joanne Lunn in a fresh, bright voice, accurate and rhythmic; Claudio is taken by Simon Brown, a capable and fluent countertenor with a strong and clear top register and much subtlety in handling details of stress and timing. He has a fine aria with trumpet to end Act 1. Sulla himself is sung by a Handelian of considerable and obvious experience – a fine model for the young members of the cast: James Bowman shows his knowledge of how to shape and colour Handel’s lines and (as in the fiery Act 2 aria) to sing forcefully and still musically. The voice rings well even if the lower register now has a little less character.

All the singers add a little, generally discreet ornamentation in the da capo sections. Denys Darlow, as always, conducts in a direct and unaffected fashion, showing consideration for the singers and understanding of Handel, with a good range of tempos and with spruce, lively rhythms. Handelians will not want to miss this chance of hearing a rare work admirably performed.'

-- Stanley Sadie, Gramophone [3/2001]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Silla, HWV 10 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Simon Baker (Countertenor), James Bowman (Countertenor), Elizabeth Cragg (Soprano),
Joanne Lunn (Soprano)
Conductor:  Denys Darlow
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Handel Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1713; London, England 
Language: Italian 

Sound Samples

Silla, HWV 10: Overture: Largo - Allegro -Adagio
Silla, HWV 10: Overture: Andante - Adagio
Silla, HWV 10: Overture: Minuet
Silla, HWV 10: Overture: March
Silla, HWV 10: Act I Scene 1: Recitative: Silla, s'oggi risplende (Metella, Lepido, Silla)
Silla, HWV 10: Act I Scene 1: Aria: Alza il volo la mia fama (Silla)
Silla, HWV 10: Act I Scene 2: Recitative: S'ecclissa la mia gioia! (Metella, Lepido)
Silla, HWV 10: Act I Scene 2: Aria: Fuggon l'aure in me di vita (Metella)
Silla, HWV 10: Act I Scene 3: Recitative: Cieli, numi! che vidi? (Flavia, Lepido)
Silla, HWV 10: Act I Scene 3: Aria: Se ben tuona il ciel irato (Lepido)
Silla, HWV 10: Act I Scene 4: Recitative: Sin con lingua di foco (Celia, Flavia)
Silla, HWV 10: Act I Scene 4: Aria: Un sol raggio di speranza (Flavia)
Silla, HWV 10: Act I Scene 5: Recitative: Sino su li occhi miei (Celia, Claudio)
Silla, HWV 10: Act I Scene 5: Aria: Senti, bell'idol mio! (Claudio)
Silla, HWV 10: Act I Scene 6: Si, t'amo, oh caro, e pur io son costretta (Celia)
Silla, HWV 10: Act I Scene 6: Aria: Se la speranza nudrisce il mio cor (Celia)
Silla, HWV 10: Act I Scene 7: Recitative: Silla, dov'e la gloria (Claudio, Silla, Celia)
Silla, HWV 10: Act I Scene 7: Aria: Con tromba guerriera (Claudio)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 1: Recitative: Flavia! ... Signor, la tua grandezza ammira (Silla, Flavia)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 1: Aria: Qual scoglio in mezzo all'onde (Flavia)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 2: Recitative: T'arresta, altera! Ma pietoso Amore (Silla)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 2: Aria: Dolce nume de' mortali (Silla)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 3: Aria: Guerra, stragi e furor! (Il Dio)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 5: Recitative: Silla! ove ti guida (Lepido, Silla)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 5: Aria: E tempo, oh luci belle (Silla)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 6: Recitative: Mio diletto, che pensi? (Flavia, Lepido)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 6: Duet: Sol per te, bell'idol mio (Flavia, Lepido)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 7: Recitative: Bella, lascia i sospiri! (Claudio, Celia)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 7: Aria: Mi brilla nel seno (Claudio)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 8: Recitative: Mio bel nume, t'arresta! (Silla, Metella, Celia)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 8: Aria: Hai due vaghe pupillette (Metella)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 9: Recitative: Che miro, oh Dei? Qui Silla? (Flavia, Silla, Lepido)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 10: Duet: Ti lascio, idolo mio (Flavia, Lepido)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 11: Recitative: Anima mia! ... Mio caro! (Claudio, Celia, Silla)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 12: Recitative: Snabro! Lepido sia da' stral traffitto (Silla, Scabro)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 12: Aria: La vendetta e un cibo al cor (Silla)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 13: Recitative: Oh! perfido consorte (Metella, Scabro)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 14: Aria: Se'l mio mal da voi dipende (Claudio)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 15: Recitative: Si, questi son trofei, pero imperfetti - Scene 16: Recitative: Deh! corri al tuo signore! (Silla, Metella)
Silla, HWV 10: Act II Scene 17: Aria: Secondate, oh giusti dei (Metella)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 1: Recitative: Quanto devo, oh Metella, al tuo cor generoso (Lepido, Metella)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 2: Aria: Io non ti chiedo piu, o sposo amato (Metella)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 3: Recitative: Al tua fedeltade, o caro amino (Lepido)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 3: Aria: Gia respira in petto i core (Lepido)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 4: Recitative: L'imper quanto e pio vasto e piu pesante (Silla)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 5: Recitative: Placasti, oh bella diva, il tuo rigore? (Silla, Celia)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 5: Aria: Sei gia morto, idolo mio (Celia)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 6: Recitative: Rimembranze funeste (Celia, Claudio)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 6: Aria: Luci belle, serene stelle (Claudio)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 7: Aria: Stelle rubelle, a torto moriro (Flavia)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 8: Recitative: Al fin, del mio rigore (Silla, Flavia)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 9: Recitative: Spirto adorato, oh Dio! (Flavia, Lepido)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 10: Recitative: Metella, oh Dio! Qual sento (Silla, Metella)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 10: Duet: Non s'estingue mail la fiamma (Metella, Silla)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 11: Recitative: Propizio arrida il cielo (Metella)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 12: Recitative: Pera la feritade! (Lepido, Claudio, All)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 12: Sinfonia
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 12: Recitative: De' miei falli pentito (Silla, Lepido, Flavia, Celia)
Silla, HWV 10: Act III Scene 12: Chorus: Chi al trova tra procelle

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Véritable découverte February 23, 2014 By D. Ulmann (Vésenaz, Switzerland) See All My Reviews "Cet opéra de Haendel est un plaisir pour les amateurs éclairés par la qualité de l'interprétation" Report Abuse
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