Handel Admeto opera to libretto by Aurelia Aureli and Ortensio Mauro. Directed 2006 by Axel Köhler at Opernhaus Halle as part of the the Halle Handel Festival. Stars Matthias Rexroth (Admeto), Romelia Lichtenstein (Alceste), Mechthild Bach (Antigona), Tim Mead (Trasimede), Raimund Nolte (Ercole), Melanie Hirsch (Orindo), Gerd Vogel (Moraspe), and Howard Arman/Alex Köhler (Voice of Apollo). Howard Arman conducts the Handel Festival Orchestra playing historical instruments. Stage design by Roland Aeschlimann; costumes by Marie-Thérèse Jossen; masks by Mario Ansinn; lighting by Matthias Hönig. Directed for TV by Ute Feudel. Released in 2009, this disc features 7.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: C+

This is from the Halle Handel Festival, which usually stages one Handel opera each summer. Over time, the festival has staged most if not all of Handle's many operas. But when a organization does only one opera a year, don't expect miracles. The only singer in this production who gets better with repeated viewing is Raimund Nolte, baritone, in the role of Hercules. Nolte has it all: a steady pleasant singing voice, great diction which allows you to hear clearly the words he sings, good looks, trim figure, and acting ability. Matthias Rexroth and Tim Mead are good counter-tenors, but both eventually become wearisome. The directing and design is mildly interesting, and the comic touch helps break the monotony of the slow-paced libretto. The Handel Festival Orchestra sounds great throughout the disc, and the recording is fine. Students of early opera and Handel lovers will probably find things here to like. For the rest of us who might be interested just in trying Handel, a better bet would be the Giulio Cesare or Orlando HDVDs.

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