Eccles: Semele review | Erica Jeal’s classical album of the week

Dennis/Charlston/Burkhard/Academy of Ancient Music/Perkins
Eccles’s 1706 work is a fascinating insight into its era, and this clean, light-on-its-feet version is a truly gratifying listen

What if something – say, the lack of a visa-free touring agreement – had stopped Handel coming to London in 1711, and the German composer with the Italian style had never effected his transformation of English opera? What would London audiences have applauded instead? Our impression of the art form in England in the early 18th century has long been patchy, but it’s a good deal more joined-up and colourful thanks to this recording of John Eccles’s 1706 opera Semele, impeccably produced by the Academy of Ancient Music, the Cambridge Handel Opera Company and Cambridge Early Music.

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