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Germany: Gottingen. (INTERNATIONAL).

The International Handel Festival in Gottingen is an important destination for lovers of the composer's music. This past summer, it featured a rare production of Partenope and the world premiere of a recently discovered work by Handel, Gloria in excelsis Deo, for soprano, two violins and basso continuo. The Canadian connection was provided by sopranos Meredith Hall and Dominique Labelle. My presence at the festival was not without its partisan aspects--Dean Artists, the management company where I am director of the concerts division, represents Hall--but she scored an indisputable triumph as Partenope, and Labelle was accorded the honor of presenting the first known public performance m modern times of the Gloria.

Partenope is a comic opera concerning Queen Partenope and her suitors. Affections are trifled with, baffles are fought, women disguise themselves as men, and the denouement occurs when Partenope's lead suitor, Arsace, challenges the disguised lady, Eurimene/Rosmira, to a topless duel. Director Igor Folwill's tongue was firmly in his cheek, and at times the Baroque/modern production threatened to go over the top. Countertenor Kai Wessel (Arsace) sang convincingly and posed outrageously, while Hall sang with style and grace, presenting a queen more bemused than impressed by her suitors' attentions.

Expectations were high for the Gloria, and Handel did not disappoint. The work gave ample opportunity for expressive and bravura displays by both Labelle-- the undisputed star of the concert-- and Nicholas McGegan's San Francisco Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. McGegan is the Handel Festival's resident genius, and his affinity for the works of Handel was everywhere evident He imbues the music with a liveliness and contemporary spirit that give the lie to the notion that Handel is a museum composer.
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Title Annotation:Review; Partenope, Handel's Gloria in excelsis Deo
Author:Ingram, Henry
Publication:Opera Canada
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 22, 2001
Previous Article:Toulouse. (INTERNATIONAL).
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