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Alessandro

Georg Friedrich Handel

The rare opera Alessandro dates from Handel’s prolific London period and was a milestone when it was first staged, bringing together the two most famous divas of the day

Julia Lezhneva, Bejun Mehta
Julia Lezhneva © Emil Matveev - Bejun Mehta © MarcoBorggreve
Diego Fasolis
Diego Fasolis © Daniel Vass
Book

Cast

Bejun Mehta Alessandro
Julia Lezhneva Lisaura
Lucia Cirillo Rossane
Raffaele Pe Cleone
Sonia Prina Tassile
Valentino Buzza Leonato
José Coca Loza Clito

Diego Fasolis direction
Kammerorchester Basel

Sung in Italian with French and English subtitles

Handel composed Alessandro for the Royal Academy of Music in 1726 and although it is rarely performed or recorded, it has earned its place in musical history as the setting for one of the most famous “diva spats” of its day. Alessandro was the first of five works composed for the two most famous singers of the period, Francesca Cuzzoni, the toast of the London stage, and Faustina Bordoni, the young pretender to the title of prima diva. The plot centres on the figure of Alexander the Great sung by the great Senesino when it was first performed, but the story is given extra spice by the two women competing for his attention and affections. As a consummate dramatist and clever communicator, Handel exploited the rivalry between the two singers, but circumstances exceeded his wildest expectations when the two women literally tore each other’s hair out and exchanged blows onstage! The presence of these three vocal “stars” forced Handel to compose an equal number of arias in which they could each shine in turn to avoid reducing Alessandro to a battle between divas.

Production Théâtre des Champs-Elysées