This recording presents–almost–Berlioz's original thoughts on this very complicated opera (which went through more than a dozen versions, with additions and subtractions, in the composer's lifetime), although conductor John Nelson also adds an aria or two Berlioz later added, making it somewhat different from the version recorded by Philips under Sir Colin Davis a little over 30 years ago. If I had to choose one of these two superb performances, it would be this: the opera's odd rhythms are more strongly underlined by Nelson, the whole work seems more lively, and the comic moments are genuinely funny. And the singing is superb, with Patrizia Ciofi a simply great, light-toned Teresa, Gregory Kunde tackling the title role and singing as impressively as Gedda did for Davis, and Joyce di Donato singing Ascanio's music as well as you'll ever hear it. The darker-voiced roles are equally well taken, with Laurent Naouri's Balducci particularly vivid. The orchestral playing, choral singing, and ensemble work and sonics are first rate. This is a superb recording, presenting Berlioz's odd masterwork brilliantly.
Robert Levine for amazon.com
Joyce DiDonato celebrates the rich dramatic variety of the mezzo-soprano voice in this collection of arias for different characters – of both sexes – from a single opera, or from different operatic treatments of the same story.
Composers: Richard Strauss, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Hector Berlioz, Charles Gounod, Vincenzo Bellini, Jules Massenet, Gioachino Rossini, Christoph-Willibald Von Gluck.
Joyce Di Donato and Maite Beaumont are outstanding as the devoted couple tormented by Tiridate’s abuse of power. Their flexible and agile voices are ideally displayed in the opening scenes of Act 2 – Beaumont’s sublime ‘Quando mai’ followed by Di Donato’s powerful ‘Ombra cara’. Patrizia Ciofi is suited to the moods of the Tiridate’s long-suffering wife. Dominique Labelle is the most rounded and ideally equipped Handel soprano in the cast: the music effortlessly trips off her tongue in ‘Mirerò quel vago volto’… Alan Curtis directs with superb pace and judgement. He is a successful advocate for Handel’s first version of Radamisto, although in Act 3 he uses two pieces from the second version for dramatic reasons. I wonder how Polissena’s original climactic aria ‘Sposo ingrato’ might sound instead of the exclamatory ‘Barbiro, partirò’, but I cannot fault Curtis’s decision to opt for the more dynamic later aria. Il Complesso Barocco play neatly and sympathetically support the singers. The orchestra avoids forcing rhetorical effects too much but I wish it had mined the textural richness in Handel’s score a little deeper. However, this enjoyable performance lacks nothing essential in theatrical impact and musical drive. (David Vickers, Gramophone)