December 14, 2023

An Epic Journey Through Handel’s ‘Alcina’

Pentatone releases Handel Alcina, together with Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre, in February 2024.

A Lush, Colourful Return To Handel

Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre return to Handel with a complete recording of his opera Alcina. The title role is interpreted by Magdalena Kožená, who reunites with Les Musiciens and maestro Minkowski after a series of acclaimed baroque recordings. She is joined by an excellent casts of soloists, consisting of Erin Morley (Morgana), Anna Bonitatibus (Ruggiero), Elzabeth DeShong (Bradamante), Alois Mühlbacher (Oberto), Valerio Contaldo (Oronte) and Alex Rosen (Melisso). This studio recording transports the listener to Alcina’s enchanted island, and shows Handel at the peak of his power: the score is dramatic, lush and colourful as well as introspective and profound where the story requires it.

Since its foundation in 1982, and under the baton of its founder and musical director Marc Minkowski, Les Musiciens du Louvre have developed into one of the world’s best period-instrument ensembles, with a vast discography. The ensemble returns to Pentatone after having presented Mozart’s Mass in C Minor in 2020. Alcina is star mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená’s fifth album as part of her exclusive collaboration with Pentatone, after having presented the baroque cantatas recital album Il giardino dei sospiri and the songs in chamber-musical setting project Soirée in 2019, as well as Nostalgia together with Yefim Bronfman (2021) and Folk Songs with the Czech Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle (2023). The other soloists all make their Pentatone debut.

“After Mozart’s Mass in C, Handel’s Alcina is the second collaboration of the Musiciens du Louvre with Pentatone, which records the traces of these two beautiful concert tours from our recent seasons.

Natural too, the recording of Alcina in relation to our Ariodante, two fraternal twins born in the same season and responding to each other like the magician to the hero, the feminine to the masculine, the moon to the sun.

The reunion with Magdalena Kozena is always natural. We have been on a common journey since its beginnings, and she was the older sister of Alcina (vocally of course), Cleopatra in our Giulio Cesare recorded recently in Vienna.

The team we have assembled is natural, where we meet familiar people and young people, Anna Bonitatibus with whom we also have long-standing ties, and Elizabeth DeShong who climbed into our caravan for the first time. We have been traveling with Erin Morley, Alex Rosen, Valerio Contaldo for a short time or for a long time, and Alois Mühlbacher, who has since changed, was our Oberto at the Vienna Staatsoper when he was a child!

Natural finally is the choice of a recording on the spot – live in classical French. This is how I have thought about opera for thirty years. The opera house is neither a museum nor an examination center. It’s a ring, a banquet, a pyre, a games room… whatever you want as long as the flesh quivers and the heart palpitates. The fruit of a long work that we must forget in order to give of ourselves, to take risks, to live what we play and what we sing for real. Even a nocturnal and reflective work like Alcina demands that we experience it. I believe, at least I hope, that this is what we have done together.”

Marc Minkowski

“To perform a major Handel role with period instruments does not happen every day. To steal a major Handel role from sopranos and record it with Marc Minkowski and Les musicians du Louvre happens only once in a lifetime.

What a thrill it is to make such a profound musical journey alongside my amazing colleagues and to be inspired and carried on the waves of heartbreaking emotions by Marc and my old friends from the orchestra.

And I am extremely grateful to all wonderful people from Pentatone for having complete trust in this project and committing to it. We all know how rare it can be these days. You made us, performers, extremely happy and I hope the public share our enthusiasm.”

Magdalena Kožená

This ensemble will present a special performance of Handel’s Alcina at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan on the 8th of February! More information can be found HERE.

Digital Release Date: 2 FEBRUARY 2024

Physical Release: FEBRUARY 2024

Released as a 3-disc clamshell and in digital formats for streaming and high-resolution downloads.