|Georg Friedrich HAENDEL
Arminio - Vivica Genaux
Tusnelda - Geraldine McGreevy
Sigismondo - Dominique Labelle
Ramise - Manuela Custer
Varo - Luigi Petroni
Tullio - Sytse Buwalda
Segeste - Riccardo Ristori
Il Complesso Barocco, conducted by Alan Curtis
Rec: July 2000.
VIRGIN VERITAS VCD 5 45461
One of only four Haendel operas that had not yet been recorded, Arminio
had a chequered career. Composed near the end of Haendel's life, in 1736,
it was only performed six times in its original performance, once again in
1972, and its notes would not be heard again until July 2000, in a concert
preceding this recording.
Written in haste, over a period of three weeks, Arminio has always
been considered uninteresting or unimportant. Yet, listening to this work,
I see no reason why such a judgement should have been made. While not up
to the same standards as Haendel's other operas, it nevertheless contains
some fine music, even if the plot is a bit convoluted. While Haendel often
used bits of music from other works, Arminio contains very little
parody - an aria from Rinaldo shows up, as it does in other works,
and some instrumental snatches as well. But it is essentially a new work.
Arminio opens with a dramatic overture - a series of somewhat martial
themes that concur with the background of the plot, where the German prince
Arminius defeated the Roman legions in 9 AD, ending Roman expansion into
Gaul. The complicated plot deals with the love between and among several
The soloists are all capable, at least, and I found Geraldine McGreevy, playing
the role of Tusnelda, to be quite good. Her voice injects a great deal of
emotion into her arias. Also, there is a fine balance between the
instrumentalists and soloists. Curtis's small ensemble is excellent, and
plays both intimate and large-scale sections with energy and conviction.
Some of the arias are destined to become classics - Al par della mia
sorte, sung by Arminio in act I, is beautiful, as is Fiaccheró
quell fiero orgoglio, later in the same act, sung by Segeste. Varo's
aria, Mira il ciel, vedrai dí Alicde, one of the longest arias
in the work, is also very attractive.
While not one of Haendel's greatest operas, all Haendel lovers will want
to own this, the first recording of Arminio. The performance is excellent,
and the work contains some real gems. I must admit, I have been listening
to it over and over.