When Donna Leon, the acclaimed author of the best-selling Commissario Guido Brunetti series, is not conjuring up tales of crime and corruption in Venice, she is listening to opera. Over the years, Leon has noticed that her favourite composer, George Frideric Handel, filled his operas with arias that make reference to animals; rich in symbolism, the perceived virtues and vices of the lion, bee, nightingale, snake, elephant, and tiger, among others, resonate in his works.
In Handel's Bestiary, Leon draws on her love of Handel and her expertise in medieval bestiaries-illustrated collections of animal stories-to assemble a bestiary of her own. Twelve chapters trace twelve animals through history, mythology, and the arias. Each is joined by whimsical original illustrations by German painter Michael Sowa. The accompanying CD includes each aria, expertly recorded by Il Complesso Barocco, Karina Gauvin, Ann Hallenberg, Paul Agnew, and Anicio Zorzi, with Alan Curtis conducting. Fascinating and utterly original, Handel's Bestiary springs to life with Leon's knowledge and wit.