The castrato in Italian opera of the early 18th century had vocal power that was often associated with heroic roles, but Handel wrote several memorable villains for the voice type as well. Indeed, using the castrato's star quality to add depth to his bad guys was one facet of his operatic genius, and the idea of collecting a group of these arias is good enough to recommend this album even apart from the vocal gifts of Spanish countertenor Xavier Sabata. And those gifts are considerable. Sabata is a true operatic countertenor, somewhat in the vein of Philippe Jaroussky (to whose album of Vivaldi heroic arias this release makes a fine companion).
Solo recitals of arias from Handel operas and oratorios are common, so it's a pleasure to hear an album devoted to his duets, particularly when they're performed as well as they are here by soprano Rosemary Joshua and mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly. Both have had diverse careers, but are known especially for their Baroque roles. Their voices are especially well-matched in weight, and their blend is beautifully warm, but they are each distinctive enough that they retain a strong vocal identity even when singing in close harmony.
Celebrate the 250th anniversary of Handel's death with this impressive box set. 30-CD box set of the composer's most celebrated works–including the Royal Fireworks and Water Music, The Messiah, concerti grossi and much more! Featuring conductors Sir Neville Marriner, Christopher Hogwood, Trevor Pinnock, Mark Minkowski and others. Performances by the Gabrielli Players, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, English Baroque Soloists and others.