Great Handel

Popularly, George Frideric Handel has long been identified with grand choral music, particularly with one oratorio, the Messiah. Without diminishing the legitimate power of Handel’s trademark work, informed opinion lately has come to recognize the true heart of the cosmopolitan composer’s musical corpus: opera. Here, British tenor Ian Bostridge, accompanied by the sublime Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, takes on a selection of arias and airs (and two duets) from Handel’s operatic milieu. The talented Bostridge, shifting gears somewhat from his recent successes with Schubert and Wolf lieder, imbues the excerpts with equal parts grace (“Ombra mai fu”) and due heft (“Scherza infida” from Ariodante), and reminds us that great roles in late Baroque opera weren’t confined to countertenors.