Handel's Bestiary: In Search of Animals in Handel's Operas by Donna Leon

By Donna Leon

This is often the improved book variation of Handel's Bestiary that includes tune via George Frederic Handel with Alan Curtis engaging in Il Complesso Barocco.

When acclaimed novelist Donna Leon isn't conjuring up stories of crime and corruption in Venice, or reveling in scrumptious food, she is hearing tune. For Leon, purchaser of conductor Alan Curtis and his celebrated orchestra Il Complesso Barocco, that sometimes ability the paintings of her favourite composer, George Frideric Handel.

Over the years, Leon has spotted that the nice musician stuffed his operas with arias that make connection with animals; wealthy in symbolism, the perceived virtues and vices of the lion, bee, nightingale, snake, elephant, and tiger, between others, resonate in his works. In Handel's Bestiary, Leon attracts on her love of Handel and her services in medieval bestiaries--illustrated collections of animal stories--to gather a bestiary of her personal. Twelve chapters hint twelve animals via history,...

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Extra info for Handel's Bestiary: In Search of Animals in Handel's Operas

Sample text

SILVER DOVE SILVER DOVE O that I on wings could rise From: THEODORA Act 2, scene 2 But why art thou disquieted, my soul? – Hark! Heav’n invites thee in sweet rapt’rous strains to join the ever-singing, ever-loving choir, of saints and angels in the courts above. O that I on wings could rise, swiftly sailing through the skies, as skims the silver dove! That I might rest, for ever blest, with harmony and love. ” After a week, when Noah set her free again, and she returned with an olive leaf in her beak, sure proof that the waters had finally begun to recede.

The thought of this collection of arias had been percolating in my mind for some time, as it had in that of like-minded Handel enthusiast, Alan Curtis. Then when I introduced him to the artist Michael Sowa, we both decided he would be the ideal person to help us realize this project visually. I recalled that while at university I had read widely in the Medieval bestiaries as well as in the texts of the early natural historians and remained, thirty years on, utterly charmed by the stories they had to tell.

Often, the ancients came up with fantastical explanation for observed phenomena. ” More helpful, perhaps, but no less pugnacious are the geese of Rome, whose cackles woke the ex-consul Manlius in 390 B. C. just in time to lead his troops to defend the Capitoline from the invading Gauls. Less aggressive, but no less military, are the cranes, who often have to fly their light bodies into the face of strong winds. To do so safely, they tank up on sand and small stones before takeoff, thus giving themselves the ballast necessary to stabilize their flight.

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