Rodrigo wasn't Handel's very first opera (that was Almira ), but it was the first one he wrote after arriving in Italy--and the first one that seems fully mature, with no hint of juvenilia. (He was all of 22 when he wrote it). Already the composer had begun his habit of recycling music from earlier works; dedicated Handel fans will recognize plenty of material from (among others) Aminta e Fillide , Tirsi, Clori e Fileno , and the Carmelite Vespers music . Rodrigo 's plot has all the martial and amorous conflict, revenge, and forgiveness of any self-respecting opera seria , but the narrative is less convoluted than most; more important, it's full of powerful and credible human emotion--emotion that Handel illustrates with consistently fine music. (There's none of the first-act doldrums that afflict some of Handel's other operas and oratorios.) Alan Curtis has assembled an unusually good cast: Caterina Calvi is an excellent--and all too rare--Handel contralto, with admirable flexibility, firm low notes and no matronly quality to the voice; tenor Rufus Müller makes a convincingly courageous and egotistical rebel nobleman, yet retains some of the sweet tone that made him a stand-out member of the Tallis Scholars in earlier years. The three sopranos--Elena Cecchi Fedi as the furious victim of seduction, Sandrine Piau as the virtuous queen, and Roberta Invernizzi as a rebellious young noble--are all exemplary. Then there's magnificent mezzo Gloria Banditelli: her singing is focused and flexible enough to fit right in with period instruments, with a sound both pure and heroic enough to be credible in a heroic castrato role. Curtis has cut a good bit of recitative (included, shown in italics, in the booklet), but then Handel often did the same thing. Moreover, he paces the performance well--sometimes one misses the spark that, say, Marc Minkowski and Paul McCreesh ignite throughout their best Handel performances, but the energy and theatrical involvement never flag. --Matthew Westphal
Funerals are very expensive. My father was embalmed, then we picked a funeral package with coffin, hearse etc., and then entombed in a crypt as per his wishes. My costs for giving my father a dignified funeral was close to $27,000, with the crypt costs $9,. On top of that I choose to have a private autopsy which was another $5,400. I never even thought of "gofundme", it's part of a family that lives to also prepare for dying and the final expenses. These three beautiful young men that lost their lives should be laid to rest in dignity. Personally I would not donate to funerals unless it's a family that all perish. But haters should not post derogatory statements of other who choose to donate. Just know it's pricey to die. Not all are comfortable with a quick cremation and the ashes in a box or urn somewhere in a closet. May they rest in peace.