My Baroque odyssey of recent months has led me in a strange roundabout way to Handel (the quirkiness of having arrived at Handel via Couperin, Charpentier, Mondonville, Delalande, Lully, Rameau, Durante and Purcell rather tickles me), most particularly his vocal music, which I've blithely been ignoring all my life on the assumption that it wasn't 'my kind of thing'. I now find it's very much my kind of thing after all, so I've been dutifully studying the Penguin and Gramophone Guides to see where to go, and which recordings to get.
First up for consideration was Alcina, in the famous version by Christie and Les Arts Florissants with a star-studded cast (Fleming, Graham, Dessay), thus:
(available here for £41)
But ... this recording has been reissued as part of the Warner 'Handel Edition' in a 6 CD box, thus:
Now this is available for a mere £19 here, AND you also get Orlando, in the highly regarded Christie version, thrown in for good measure. Orlando, bought separately on Amazon, would knock you back another £41 (see here). So in this reissued box set, we get both works for £19, instead of £82 when bought separately.
There's a snag of course. Although there is a booklet in the 6CD box, which has an effective keyed synopsis for each work, it has no librettos (unlike the original issues). However, £63 for two librettos doesn't seem like good value.
The good news is that the librettos can be downloaded from the Warner website, and printed out - which is what I've done. I don't like this much - I'd far prefer to have the librettos in booklets contained within the sets; but the really important thing is that the librettos are available in an accessible form that works. And the final outcome is that by buying the box, and making do with the online material, these two superb recordings/performances can be had at about £3 per disc.