Handel’s unrivalled skill of writing great tunes – from the simplest utterance to show-stopping glories – sits at the heart of almost all of Handel’s dramatic works. Without the text, it could be claimed that any instrumental performance is a compromise too far. But how bereft we would be without the chance for instruments to imitate or replace the voice, to put our mark on a piece by exploring an expressive world of implication and beauty for its own sake?

‘Brilla nell alma’ from Alessandro is a significant study in ecstatic joy (with its hyperbolic line ‘my heart is floating in a sea of bliss’). Rosanne (Alessandro’s lover) delivers as brilliant a vocal exhibition as you’ll hear in a Handel opera. Handel was forced on occasion to allow his singer’s egos and high jinks to eclipse his own dramatic desires. Alessandro was such a case with the two greatest divas of their generation on the stage, Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni (joined by the celebrated castrato Senesino!), and Handel clearly wanted his money’s worth from both of them. The aria is scoped like a concerto in its contrasting melodic and harmonic frames, so it seemed an ideal opportunity (especially as Rosanne had just made peace with Lisaura) to imagine the prima donnas together in duet.

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood

Parts included:

  • Trumpets in C
  • Piano

Purchasing this product entitles you to download it three times. You will receive an email with a link to download your files upon completing payment.