febbraio 2005

CD "Orlando finto pazzo" di Antonio Vivaldi

Recensione su "Opera News"

"This recording of Orlando Finto Pazzo raises Opus 111’s ongoing Vivaldi project to new heights. What makes this production a benchmark isn’t just the superb performances of all concerned but the extremely high quality of the opera itself, a work by which the Red Priest — as the cleric–composer was nicknamed because of his thick red hair — sought in 1714 to put his stamp on Venetian opera. [...] Racing out of the gate at full throttle is a hair-raising overture, played with smashing dynamic changes by the Orchestra Academia Montis Regalis. Conductor Alessandro de Marchi makes it clear from the start that we are about to experience the extremes of human expression. An essential feature of the orchestra’s high quality is the excellent plucked string band that comprises much of the continuo: the lute and theorbo players Francesco Romano, Maurizio Piantelli and Paolo Cherici and the marvelous harpist Marta Graziolino create atmosphere wherever flesh meets gut. [...] The singing is predominated by alto color: three mezzos, a contralto and a countertenor swell the ranks of the cast, while Orlando himself (the marvelous bass Antonio Abete) must make his character out of a string of lively recitatives. He is counterbalanced by a sole soprano role, Ersilla, the sorceress who forms the object of Orlando’s quest in this tale. The sweet-voiced Gemma Bertagnolli executes Ersilla’s music with astonishing agility above the staff and great character throughout. Ersilla is given the finales to both Acts I and II, and for her Act III scene in the hell cave, Vivaldi wrote three alternative arias for the renowned diva Margherita Gualandi, known as “la Campiola.” The recording thoughtfully provides all three, and they are showstoppers, none better than “Sperai la pace,” in which Bertagnolli delivers one of the extended cadenzas that seem to have been the norm in Vivaldi’s era. Contralto Sonia Prina is firm and supple at will as the jilted Origille. Prina’s pointed way of creating character in recitative serves as a standard for the measure of this cast, which mostly comes up to her high level. Like her colleagues, Prina delivers her arias with an intoxicating brew of brio and nonchalant lightness. [...] Not only the singers but the instrumentalists exhibit the wildness of performance for which Vivaldi himself was noted. In a telling performance-practice moment in Act I, violinist Enrico Onofri flies off into a cadenza more than a minute long. His fingers stretch seemingly beyond any known position, up and over the bridge, creating an extended moment of such virtuosity that one is left wondering what the poor singer onstage was doing. Little matter. The gusto with which this recording takes off again and again makes the journey itself almost unimportant."

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