22 March 2012
Easy CD-DA | FLAC tracks | Covers | 694 Mb
Date CD: 12/12/2006 | Naxos | 145:08
The opera is Gli amori d’Apollo e di Dafne, which was Cavalli’s first collaboration with Busanello, the librettist of Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea. Gli amori was first performed in 1640 at the Teatro S. Cassiano in Venice. The plot is the usual rather free mixture of mix-ups between gods and goddesses. The main thread running through the opera is Apollo’s pursuit of Dafne. But along the way we encounter Titone - immortal but no longer young - and his youthful wife Aurora, who is cheating on him with Cefalo, whose wife Procri is distraught. Venus, in her turn, is upset by Apollo and Jove suggests using Amore to remedy things; this is the main engine for the Apollo/Dafne plot. In amongst these are the comic moments, mainly relating to the old lady, Cirilla, who is played by a high tenor (Jose Ferrero).
The opera’s music only survives in a single manuscript, which seems to be lacking four scenes, two each from the ends of Act 1 and of Act 2. But editor Federico Agostinelli, in his illuminating note, suggests that these final scenes may perhaps have not been set. We have no way of knowing, but the opera works as it stands.
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The listener's initial response to this recording of Cavalli's 1640 opera Gli amore d'Apollo e di Dafne, accompanied by a modern orchestra including double winds, may be dazed disbelief. After hearing trombones doubling the cello section as continuo instruments, disbelief may deepen into a state of shock, so the faint of heart should be warned -- consider this a medical advisory before giving the CD a spin. The program notes, by Federico Agostinelli (who created this realization of the score) and Alberto Zedda, make clear the agenda of this performance: it is a manifesto attacking the authentic period performance practice movement. The initial premise cannot be disputed: the manuscripts of the operas of Monteverdi, Cavalli, and their contemporaries are sketchy, often including only the vocal lines and the bass line, leaving the details of harmony and instrumentation to be filled in by the performers, and we can't know with certainty what the Baroque performers did. Agostinelli and Zedda then argue, however, that since we can't know, we can do whatever we want, whatever will entertain modern audiences, and modern audiences couldn't possibly want to listen to those boring old Baroque instruments after having grown accustomed to, for instance, the splendor of the Vienna Philharmonic. That said, the vocal quality of most of the soloists is quite good, and the comic moments are sometimes amusing. The orchestral playing is uneven, the ensemble is ragged, and there is little discernable dynamic variation -- almost everything is played between mezzo-piano and mezzo-forte. The biggest problem, though, is how boring most of this performance is. Cavalli's operas, when performed well, sparkle with wit and broad humor, but this performance is merely plodding -- not a very persuasive argument for this particular philosophy of performance practice. The sound quality is unpredictable, even for a live performance -- sometimes the singers sound as if they are standing within inches of the microphone, but more often they sound muffled and distant. Caveat emptor.
I don't like it, but this is a request.
Marianna Pizzolato (Mezzo Soprano), Maria Luisa Maesso (Mezzo Soprano)
Agustin Prunell-Friend (Tenor), Carlo Lepore (Bass)
José López Ferrero (Tenor), Mario Zeffiri (Tenor),
Marisa Martins (Mezzo Soprano), Assumpta Mateu (Soprano)
Ugo Guagliardo (Bass), Soledad Cardoso (Soprano), Fabiola Masino (Soprano)
Galicia Youth Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Alberto Zedda
Posted by Toutatis at 18:04