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Penguin Guide, January 2009

First given in 1713, Teseo was the second opera that Handel wrote for London, an adaptation of Racine’s play on the confrontation of Theseus and Medea. Handel’s setting crisply presents the story in a series of brisk arias, often with a sequence of numbers given to a particular character. In five Acts, the two protagonists do not appear until Act II, and for much of the opera Theseus hardly emerges as the central character. This Berlin production of 2004 by Axel Kohler offers a stylish reading on period instruments, with an excellent line-up of principals. As Agilea, Sharon Rostorf-Zamir with her rich mezzo establishes the quality in the first three arias, and the three counter-tenors in the cast—taking the roles of Theseus, Egeo and Arcane—are all first rate, a plus point for this version. Kohler’s production involves broadly traditional costumes and the simplest of sets.

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