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45 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 26 March 2013

Live from St George's, Bristol

Presented by Tom Service

As part of Baroque Spring on Radio 3 and the Bristol Baroque Festival, the Early Opera Company present: Handel and the Rival Queens.

Handel: Ottone, re di Germania -Overture
Handel: Rodelinda - Aria 'Spietati, io vi giurai'
Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto - Aria 'Che sento? ... Se pieta'
Handel: Alessandro - Overture; Aria 'Lusinghe piu care'; Aria 'Che tirannia d'Amor!'; Aria 'Brilla nell'alma'

Early Opera Company
Eleanor Dennis & Mhairi Lawson, sopranos
Christopher Benjamin, actor
Christian Curnyn, conductor and harpsichord

Two feisty modern-day sopranos, aided by one of the rising-star conductors in the Baroque opera world, take on the roles of the great rival divas of Handel's London operas of the 1720s, Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni. So notorious was their competition that a play was written about them, and even Handel's best attempts to provide them with precisely equal parts could not prevent their animosity boiling over into a fight on stage! The concert includes overtures, arias and duets from Handel's Ottone, Flavio, Alessandro, Admeto, Riccardo Primo and Siroe, Hasse's Cleofide, Porpora's Polifemo and Gay's The Beggar's Opera, as well as readings from contemporary letters, newspapers and other literary sources.


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