Handel Alert: O s’apre al riso

“Alcina” lovers among us, drop everything and watch this, right this second:

[Thank you, Logan D!]

It’s the legendary Carsen production in its original run, Paris 1999, which was issued as a recording on Erato, but never on video.

This one looks like in-house dress rehearsal footage (and the link does not show up in any search, so best get to it while it’s there), so, yes, it is wacky, but it it is GRAHAM rocking the score a suit in 1999, and it’s FLEMING, and there is an absolutely dazzling DESSAY as Morgana, and Kathleen Kuhlmann as Bradamante, conducted by Christie.

This was my first “Alcina” recording – a copy from the mother of my then-girlfried. Of course it got the treatment of carefully chosen paper copy cutouts for the covers of each act (it was a 3 disc set and of course I had a single case for each), and I cannot tell you how often I have listened to this. I am beyond thrilled to finally get a complete look at it, too.

And while we are on the issue of Carsen’s “Alcina” – I had lost the link and was googling madly to find it again, something that ultimately only worked thanks to not having eliminated my browser history for the day – let me tie it back to my current Bacelli situation because of course what would pop up on YouTube?

Bacelli as Ruggiero, that’s what, in this very production (as much of Carsen’s work, this “Alcina” seems to have done a fair share of traveling), in a 2009 recasting in Milan. With HARTEROS (not clips of her that I could find yet – otherwise I might have had to issue another warning to Dr. T…?) as Alcina and HAMMARSTRÖM as Bradamante, who also features in these two aria clips that are accesible through the channel of Gudrun74 (because naturally it is Gudrun who would have this – thank you, thank you!). And it’s not just audio, it’s video, so yes, more of that suit and that hair certainly does not hurt, either and, really, this is not helping my current predicament.

“Verdi prati”:

“Sta nell’Ircana”:


12 thoughts on “Handel Alert: O s’apre al riso

        1. no no, thanks for bringing my attention to this! putting things in perspective.. when i first learnt about these clips i knew none of the other singers / history of staging, really great to finally tie things together now (ombre pallide playing… good news is i can only watch on the computer so no train 😉 )


        1. ps- digging through my “liked videos” box also turned up >this one, related to this post of course in several ways.. though it was interesting i listened to Bacelli singing Sta nell’Ircana and was just thinking i can see why the die-hard fans of early voice music would take issues with VK’s ruggiero’s, and it was good i heard her first!


          1. I think the die-hard fans of Early Music also take issue with the more palate/upper throat-leaning voice production of Bacelli (though actually that whole palate-focus is very much late 16th century authentic, so there)!

            VK truly is a league on her own. GOD, that sound (and I did not know the clip, so THANK YOU!). Those will be the performances we will tell the youngsters about when we are 80 – “and then I heard VK in Alcina…”

            On the whole, I believe Alcina is very forgiving when it comes to non-Early Music singers; i works with a variety of voice types. Naglestad is a spinto/dramatic, and she rocked it, Fleming is a bit lyric, and she rocked it, JDD comes from Belcanto mezzo roots, and she owned it, Harteros is a lirico spinto… Why should not the same go for Ruggiero? I find it tougher with Bradamante, her arias are much more idiomatically Baroque and I cannot really see anyone without some serious Early Music technique under their belt could tackle e.g. “Vorrei vendicarmi”


  1. Love Bacelli’s rich sound in this Sta nell’ Ircana, though for me it was more beautiful than thrilling. Am I imagining things or was the tempo slowed down? This being past 3.00 am its hard for me to tell. Hallenberg’s version seems definitely faster, sharper and more dramatic. I love Di Donato’s and Coote’s versions as well. I have to watch this Alcina asap, and I want to hear Dessay’s voice of ’99. As I recall, Graham and Fleming had great chemistry in the Met’s Der Rosenkavalier and their voices blend well. Alcina – what a great opera! And how fantastic is it that all these women are still going strong! What amazing versatility for anyone to be able to sing Baroque, Bel Canto, Strauss, and other things in-between as Graham, Fleming and Dessay do. Its incredible.


    1. There is interesting commentary on YT (rarely as that does happen!) with these Gundrun74 clips – I think with “Sta nell’Ircana” – on voice types, basically dramatic expressiveness vs. expressiveness through vocal beauty, and it puts Bacelli (who is very much a lyric mezzo) on an axis with Hallenber, then there are comparisons between Ruggiero as a pushover nad bradamante as the tougher one, and how Hammarström or Mijanovic it the bill. All very interesting stances!


  2. …I didn’t know quite what to think of the shadows on the set – distracting? But how not to love the brilliant Harteros in anything! She is just amazing. She shares with the great Troyanos a Greek/German heritage.
    Thank you for all these marvelous posts.


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