Handel: Hercules (martini)

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Label: NAXOS
Catalog: 8557960-62
Format: CD

Nicola Wemyss (Dejanira), Gerlinde Sämann (Iole), Franz Vitzthum (Lichas), Knut Schoch (Hyllus), Peter Kooij (Hercules) Junge Kantorei & Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra, Joachim Carlos Martini

Handel composed Hercules for his 1744-45 oratorio season as the secular foil to one of his most ambitious sacred dramas, Belshazzar, hoping to repeat the success of the previous season’s Samson/Semele pairing. Like Semele, Hercules, which Handel called ‘A Musical Drama’, is an English opera in all but name and shares its theme of the destructive power of sexual jealousy. Handel’s music is of outstanding quality and the commanding figure of Dejanira – rapturous in her love for her returning hero, distraught at his imagined dalliance with Iöle, eventually mad with despair at the enormity of her misguided actions – is one of his most powerfully drawn female rôles.

Gramophone Magazine December 2008 “The orchestra… play with precision, vigour and awareness. Peter Kooij… sings with intelligence and warmth. Gerlinde Sämann sings Iole's difficult arias with assurance… and the astonishing aria "My father! Methinks I see" is excellently done.”

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