Alto CD

Handel: Semele

Georg Frideric Handel: Semele
Georg Frideric Handel: Semele

Georg Frideric Handel: Semele

Justino Diaz • Sheila Armstrong • Helen Watts
Robert Tear • Felicity Palmer
Amor Artis Chorale • English Chamber Orchestra
Johannes Somary, conductor

Catalogue Number: ALC 2003
Number of Discs: 2
Duration: 143:46
Price: £9.99



*** (3 stars) “Though he favours oratorio-like tempi, [Johannes] Somary keeps in mind an operatic flavour and the Amor Artis Chorale (pseudonymn for well-known professional recording choir) sings splendidly, often with great vigour… attractive ornamentation…. Overall the performance has much charm and spirit with superb soloists…. [T]he fine recording allows excellent detail yet is full and expansive.”
– © Penguin Guide to Classical Recordings , 1999

Available again by popular demand! Vanguard Recordings’ landmark recording of Handel’s Semele, first released in 1973, revealed the work as one of the composer’s most original operatic undertakings. For the recording, producer Seymour Solomon and conductor Johannes Somary assembled a cast of formidable singers, a mix of veterans and young talent on the verge of major opera and concert stage careers, and a superb chorus cherry-picked from London’s finest vocal ensembles. The interpretation straddles the grand British oratorio tradition and the then-exploding “early music” movement, providing an ample argument that Handel was indeed writing for full-bodied voices and large-scale entertainment, and yielding a sumptuous treat for lovers of opera, Baroque music, and terrific singing.

Georg Frideric Handel (1985-1759)
Semele, opera-oratorio in 3 acts
Disc One (73.27)

  • 1. Overture 5.59
    Act One, Scene I (Temple of Juno: Cadmus, Athamus, Ino & Priests)
  • 2. Recitative: Priest “Behold, auspicious flashes rise……” 1.55
  • 3. Chorus of Priests “Lucky omens bless our rites” 3.54
  • 4. Cadmus, Athamas. Recitative, arioso & duet: Cadmus: “Daughter, obey” 1.14
  • 5. Recitative & Aria: Semele “Ah me…” 3.37
  • 6. Cadmus, Ino, Athamas, Semele. Recitative: Ino “Alas ! she yields”: Quartet: response 4.28
  • 7. Chorus of Priests “Avert these omens” 2.12
  • 8. Cadmus, Athamas, Semele, Chorus of Priests. Recitative: Cadmus:
    “Again, auspicious flashes….” 2.06
  • Scene III (Cadmus joins Athamus & Ino)
  • 9. Cadmus, Athamas, Ino. Recitative & aria: Cadmus “Ah, wretched prince…” 3.07
  • Scene IV (enter Chorus of Priests & Zephyrs)
  • 10. Cadmus, Chorus of Priests & Augurs. Recitative: Cadmus, Chorus “See, see” 1.38
  • 11. Semele, Chorus. Aria: Semele, “Endless pleasure” 4.54
  • Act Two
  • 12. Sinfonia 1.52
  • Scene I (Juno & Iris descend into a pleasant country)
  • 13. Juno, Iris. Recitative & Aria: Juno, “Awake Saturnia” 6.17
  • Scene II (Semele in Palace, Loves & Zephyrs attend)
  • 14. Aria: Semele “Oh sleep, why dost thou leave me?” 3.50
  • Scene III (Juno enters)
  • 15. Semele, Jupiter. Aria: Semele, “Let me not another moment” 4.14
  • 16. Jupiter; Athamus, Chorus of Loves & Zephyrs. Recitative, Jupiter: “you are mortal” 4.55
  • 17. Jupiter, Semele. Recitative: Semele “Ah, me” Aria, Jupiter: “why sigh” 3.55
  • 18. Chorus of Loves & Zephyrs “Now love, that everlasting boy invites” 2.43
  • 19. Jupiter, Semele. Recitative & Aria: Jupiter “By my command”..”Where’er you walk” 6.47
    Scene IV (Semele and Ino embrace, Chorus attends)
  • 20. Semele, Ino, Chorus of Nymphs & Swains: Recitative & Aria:
  • Semele: “Dear Sister, how was your journey hither?” 3.41
  • Disc Two (70.19)
  • Act Two, Scene IV (concluded)
  • 1. Duet: Semele & Ino “Prepare then, ye immortal choir” 2.28
  • 2. Chorus of Nymphs & Swains: “Bless the glad earth” 2.58
  • Act Three
  • 3. Sinfonia 1.58
  • Scene I (Juno, Iris enter the Cave of Sleep)
  • 4. Recitative. & aria: Juno Iris, Somnus. Juno “Somnus awake” 5.08
  • 5. Iris, Juno, Somnus. Recit. Iris: “Dull God, canst though attend” Aria, Juno: 3.37
  • 6. Juno, Somnus & Iris. Recitative: Juno: “My will obey” 3:17
  • Scene III (Juno now as Ino)
  • 7. Juno, Semele. Aria: Semele “Myself I shall adore” 7.29
  • 8. Recitative & aria: Juno, Semele. Juno: “Be wise, as you are beautiful” …. 4.56
  • 9. Recitative & aria: Juno, Semele. Juno: “Rich odours fill the fragrant air” … 4.07
  • Scene IV (Jupiter & Semele )
  • 10. Jupiter, Semele. Recitative: Jupiter: “Oh Semele” 2.55
  • 11. Jupiter, Semele. Recitative & aria: Jupiter: “Speak, speak your desire” 3.28
  • 12. Aria: Semele “No, no, I’ll take no less” 5.56
  • Scene V (Jupiter alone)
  • 13. Aria; Jupiter “Ah, wither is she gone?” 3.51
  • Scene VI (Juno alone)
  • 14. Aria: Juno “Above measure is the pleasure” 2.21
  • Scene VII (Semele sees Jupiter descending, Lightning & thunder)
  • 15. Aria : Semele “Ah, me ! Too late I now repent” 4.19
    Scene VIII
  • 16. Cadmus, Athamus, Ino, Chorus of Priests. Recitative: Ino: “of my ill-boding dream” 5.08
    Scene, the last (Apollo appears)
  • 17. Sinfonia 1.44
  • 18. Recitative & aria: Apollo: “Apollo comes” Chorus: “Happy, happy” 4.31