Wallace and other soloists, with the Early Opera Company conducted by
Christian Curnyn – Chandos Chaconne 0719 (3 CDs) *** 1/2:
Handel’s rarely heard Partenope, a comedy from 1730 which was first
rejected as “too frivolous” by the Royal Academy of Music, can be an
absolute joy in the right hands. The tone is light and the action,
complete with disguises, cross-dressing and, of course, everyone ending
up with the right partner, moves quickly. Though ensembles predominate,
as the opera marches on to the accompaniment of some superb martial
fare, solo fireworks occasionally light up the operatic sky.
While this new performance lacks the energy and panache of the deutsche
Harmoninia Mundi recording starring René Jacobs (now deleted in the
U.S., but still listed in the European catalogues and available from
www.jpc.de), it features a good cast and stylish playing by the small
orchestra. Collectors should snap this up, while casual Handelians will
find much to savor.
– Laurence Vittes