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If there’s a Handel opera that remains unfairly neglected, it is surely Teseo. Infrequent stage productions can be blamed on a libretto that calls for spectacular effects – one scene has the sorceress Medea swoop down in ‘a Chariot drawn by flying Dragons’ to engulf the stage in flames. But the music sounds so fresh and infectious, it’s hard to believe the opera has appeared only twice on CD: Marc Minkowski’s 1992 world-premiere recording for Erato was followed by a 2009 Carus release that is largely spoiled by caterwauling countertenors. With the Minkowski currently unavailable except as part of a multi-work box-set, Nicholas McGegan’s engaging new disc fills the gap – albeit only partially. It’s a ‘highlights’ disc, edited from a complete live concert performance, so it omits several attractive arias, the most regrettable loss being Agilea’s gorgeous lullaby ‘Deh! v’aprite’.

What is here is nearly all good, and proceeds with a convivial panache that attests to McGegan’s affection for an opera he conducted on its American premiere in 1985. Amanda Forsythe (Teseo), Amy Freston (Agilea) and Robin Blaze (Arcane), plus Marc Schachman, whose virtuosic oboe obbligatos embellish several arias, are all in splendid form, but it’s Dominque Labelle’s vengeful Medea who steals the show, cackling with comically evil relish in ‘Sibbillando, ululando’ as demons torture her rival Agilea.

Graham Lock Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing