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Giovanni Antonini, Il Giardino Armonico - Vivaldi: Ottone in villa (2010)

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Giovanni Antonini, Il Giardino Armonico - Vivaldi: Ottone in villa (2010)

Giovanni Antonini, Il Giardino Armonico - Vivaldi: Ottone in villa (2010)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue & Log) ~ 644 Mb | Total time: 135:08 | Scans included
Classical | Label: Naïve | # OP30493 | Recorded: 2010

Vivaldi's first opera, Ottone in Villa (loosely, Ottone's Vacation), is something of an anomaly in the composer's output of largely tragic, heroic works: a pastoral comedy. Written in 1713 when the composer was 35, Ottone demonstrates Vivaldi's instinctive grasp of the operatic form and his gifts for characterization and dramatic development. Naïve continues its admirable series, The Vivaldi Edition, with this outstanding recording of the opera, a real gem. Giovanni Antonini leads Il Giardino Armonico, which plays with gleaming transparency. The performance is wonderfully lively and the opera's dancing energy is conveyed with high spirits and humor. Vivaldi is not a composer usually associated with comedy, so Ottone surprises with its wealth of delightful, sly wit.

Alan Curtis, Il Complesso Barocco - Handel: Fernando (2007)

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Alan Curtis, Il Complesso Barocco - Handel: Fernando (2007)

Alan Curtis, Il Complesso Barocco - Handel: Fernando (2007)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue & Log) ~ 711 Mb | Total time: 71:53+77:26 | Scans included
Classical | Label: Virgin Veritas | 3 65483 2 | Recorded: 2006

Fernando is the abandoned first draft of Handel’s opera Sosarme (performed at the King’s Theatre in February 1732)… Curtis’s pacing and shaping of Handel’s music is consistently subtle, astutely rhetorical and firmly connected to the libretto text. Although it might be possible to explore firmer muscularity and create a more vivid sense of surprise in the quicker music, there is something to be said for Curtis’s shrewd reservation of such effects for when it is truly vital for the drama. For instance, Marianna Pizzolato’s powerful arias “Vado al campo” and “Cuor di madre e cuor di moglie” are potently delivered moments of severe agitated passion that are all the more effective for the sweeter elegance that pervades much of this lovely score.

Ivor Bolton, Concerto Koln - Francesco Cavalli: Ercole Amante (2010)

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Ivor Bolton, Concerto Koln - Francesco Cavalli: Ercole Amante (2010)

Ivor Bolton, Concerto Köln - Francesco Cavalli: Ercole Amante (2010)
NTSC 16:9 (720x480) | Italiano (LinearPCM, 2 ch) | (DTS, 5 ch) | 198 min | 6,38 + 7,77 Gb (2xDVD9)
Classical | Label: Opus Arte | Sub: English, Francais, Deutsch, Espanol, Italiano, Nederlands | Recorded: 2009

This hilarious contemporary version of Francesco Cavalli's baroque opera Hercules in Love was commissioned on occasion of the marriage of Louis XIV, the Sun King, to Maria Theresa of Spain. The original production took two years to complete and was at the time the greatest show ever performed in Europe. Directed by David Alden, this surreal production is a triumph of commedia buffa resplendent with decorative and symbolic elements, and complemented by Constance Hoffman's exceptional costumes. Led by Ivor Bolton, a master of baroque music, the chorus of De Nederlandse Opera and Concerto Köln give a sublime performance. With Luca Pisaroni's (Ercole) singing being heroic and melodious in turn, and Veronica Cangemi as a splendid Iole, this is an outstanding production by the DNO.

Marc Minkowski, Les Musiciens du Louvre - Handel: Ariodante (1997)

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Marc Minkowski, Les Musiciens du Louvre - Handel: Ariodante (1997)

Marc Minkowski, Les Musiciens du Louvre - Handel: Ariodante (1997)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue & Log) ~ 787 Mb | Total time: 61:15+63:22+53:49 | Scans included
Classical | Label: Archiv Produktion | # 457 271-2 | Recorded: 1997

Lynne Dawson is the star of this show. In Act 2, where Ginevra finds herself inexplicably rejected and condemned by everyone, Dawson brings real depth of tone and feeling to her E minor lament, 'Il mio crudel martoro'; in the final act she shines in the desolate miniature 'Io ti bacio' and brings much fire to the outburst 'Sì, morro'. But she never transgresses the canons of Baroque style. Von Otter, too, has much marvellous music – the aria 'Scherza infida' is one of Handel's greatest expressions of grief – and she sings it beautifully, but she isn't really at one with his idiom and seems to lack a natural feeling for the amplitude of Handel's lines. Yet there's much to enjoy here too, the beauty of the actual sound, the immaculate control, the many telling and musicianly touches of phrasing.

Jean-Claude Malgoire, La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy - Vivaldi: Catone in Utica (2002)

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Jean-Claude Malgoire, La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy - Vivaldi: Catone in Utica (2002)

Jean-Claude Malgoire, La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy - Vivaldi: Catone in Utica (2002)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue & Log) ~ 709 Mb | Total time: 75:01+72:00 | Scans included
Classical | Label: Dynamic | # 403/1-2 | Recorded: 2001

Catone in Utica (1737), written for the Teatro Filarmonico in Verona, is one of Vivaldi’s last operatic masterpieces. Its splendid score, however, has come down to us incomplete: in fact the first of the three acts is missing. With infinite patience, Jean-Claude Malgoire has reconstructed the missing act, realising the recitative passages complying perfectly to Vivaldi’s stylistic idiom and integrating the missing arias with original arias taken from other operas written by the Red Priest. Thus Catone in Utica is at last available, in a world-première recording, in its complete form. This is unquestionably one of the highest moments in Vivaldi’s production of music theatre, a concise and highly efficacious score, rich in coups de théâtre and memorable arias, brought to us now in all its dazzling virtuoso beauty by a formidable singing cast. The recording was made in Turcoing, in France, during the performances given in November 2001 and has all the exciting freshness of a live recording in which the excellence of the performers is underlined by the audience’s enthusiastic applause.