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Alan Curtis

, conductor

 Having for years divided his time between Berkeley (California), where he taught at the celebrated University and Europe, where he plays and conducts concerts and operas, Curtis now devotes full time to performing, principally dramatic music from Monteverdi to Mozart. A landmark performance of Handel's Admeto in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw was hailed as the first successful attempt to revive Handel's opera orchestra, including the now widely-accepted but then unheard-of use of the archlute. Other prize-winning recordings included Stradella's Susanna, Cavalli's L’Erismena, and Bach's Goldberg Variations, French and English suites, and about thirty other harpsichord discs.

He has always been in the forefront of the movement to enlarge and revivify the static operatic repertory. A lavishly authentic revival of Landi's Il Sant'Alessio in Rome and Innsbruck in 1981 was an unexpected and stunning success, as were three different productions of the first Jommelli revival in modern times: La schiava liberata (Amsterdam, Naples, and Berkeley). Other remarkably successful "reconstructions" have included Cesti's Il Tito, his Semiramide, and Handel's Rodrigo, which Curtis conducted in Innsbruck, Madeira and Lisbon in 1984 for the first time since Handel himself presented it to the Medici in 1707. Francesco Sacrati's La finta pazza, was given its first revival in three centuries in a specially-constructed Baroque theatre in Campo Pisani, Venice in a production by La Fenice in July, 1987.

He conducted the Portughese premieres, in Lisbon, of Handel’s Fernando (the original version, set in Portugal, of Sosarme), Monteverdi's Il ritorno di Ulisse and Mozart's Il re pastore, the latter staged and designed by Pier Luigi Pizzi. His new performing edition of Monteverdi's Il ritorno di Ulisse, first performed in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, then staged in Siena in '91 and released the following year as a Nuova Era CD and revived in '93 for the Festival of Dresden, has recently been published by Novello (2002) and staged for the Oslo Chamber Music Festival in 2006. For La Fenice, shortly before it burned, he conducted the first performances since the 18th century of Buovo d'Antona (designed by Pier Luigi Pizzi), Goldoni's opera buffa set to music by Traetta, later issued on CD by Opus 111.
His madrigal group was invited by Werner Herzog to be protagonists in his 1996 documentary film on Gesualdo. Their CDs of madrigals by Michelangelo Rossi, Antonio Lotti, and the complete duets of Monteverdi on Virgin Classics (Diapason d'or 1999) have been highly praised by the international press, as have their subsequent recordings of two 17th-century dramatic oratorios: Il Sansone by Benedetto Ferrari (Diapason d'or 2000) and Assalonne punito by P.A. Ziani (Choc de la Musique).

More recently Alan Curtis and Il Complesso Barocco have recorded Handel’s operatic duets (“Amor e gelosia”) with Patrizia Ciofi and Joyce DiDonato, as well as his operas Radamisto and Fernando, and a masterpiece by the Viennese court composer Francesco Conti, the oratorio David (Virgin Classics). The list of highly-acclaimed Handel opera performances and recordings continues with Rodelinda, Floridante, Tolomeo, Ezio and Alcina (Deutsche Gramophon Archiv).
With the collaboration of Alessandro Ciccolini, who made a brilliant reconstruction of the missing parts to Vivaldi’s newly rediscovered Motezuma, Il Complesso Barocco also made the first recording (DGG Archiv) as well as staged performances in Lisbon, Wiesbaden, and Italy (available in DVD from Dynamic). In 2006 the same team produced the first modern reprise of Vivaldi’s Ercole su’l Termodonte, designed and staged by John Pascoe for the Spoleto Festival. For the 50th anniversary of this festival in 2007 Curtis was also invited to conduct a new production by Pascoe of Handel’s Ariodante.
Other new recordings with Curtis conducting Il Complesso Barocco include Haydn Operatic arias and Overtures with Anna Bonitatibus, Handel arias for Carestini with Vesselina Kasarova, Porpora operatic arias and sinfonie with Karina Gauvin, and Gluck’s Ezio with Sonia Prina, Ann Hallenberg, Max Cencic, and Topi Lehtipuu.


Divine Karina - The Best of Karina Gauvin
Karina Gauvin
February, 2016
Porpora Arias
Karina Gauvin
August, 2009