Composed at a time when neither oratorio nor opera existed, Emilio de' Cavalieri's musical drama Rappresentatione di anima et di corpo combines song, stage action, dance, and instrumental music in perfect harmony. The work's libretto, attributed to Agostino Manni, presents a musical morality play in which soul and body dispute, with the participation of other allegorical characters and angels and souls both in heaven and hell. On this new recording, maestro Rene Jacobs illuminates this key work, which was written at the dawn of the Baroque revolution.
Now attributed to Pergolesi on the basis of recent research, the ‘Seven Words of Christ’ has been regarded as ‘one of the most heartfelt works of art, full of profound tenderness and an all-conquering sense of beauty’ [Hermann Scherchen, on its discovery in 1930]. However, his judgment has remained unheeded and only the discovery of two more manuscripts in the abbeys of Kremsmünster and Aldersbach, by the musicologist Reinhard Fehling, prompted the firm of Breitkopf & Härtel to publish a critical edition…
Renowned for his work in Baroque vocal music, René Jacobs is most frequently credited as a countertenor and as a choral director. He is somewhat less familiar as a conductor of Classical symphonic music, though he has increasingly delved into this repertoire in recordings with one of Europe's best early music groups, the Freiburger Barockorchester. This 2007 release from Harmonia Mundi features Jacobs and the orchestra in bright and finely detailed performances of two of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's late symphonies, the Symphony No. 38 in D major, K. 504, "Prague," and the Symphony No. 41 in C major, K. 551, "Jupiter."
Carl Heinrich Graun was court composer to Frederick the Great of Prussia, and this opera was chosen to open the new opera house in Berlin in 1742. It was a great success, but Handel's opera on the same subject had appeared less than two decades before, and had anyone been familiar with that one, Graun's might have come as a disappointment. Handel gets under his characters' skins–Cleopatra's eight arias tell us everything we have to know about her, for instance–while Graun (merely) offers some beautiful, well-orchestrated, at-times exciting music. Any composer would have been proud to compose Cesare's heart-stoppingly vengeful last-act aria "Voglio strage", and any Read more mezzo (or castrato or countertenor) would be happy to sing it. Here, Iris Vermillion is spectacular, and elsewhere in the opera she's as heroic, romantic, and colorful as our hero ought to be… Robert Levine
LA CALISTO has become one of my favorite operas. I like the kaleidoscopic range of voices. Marcello Lippi, in a taxing role, plays both Jove AND Jove impersonating Diana. The role requires him to sing in two totally different ranges. But the whole cast is excellent. Maria Bayo is very good here as la Calisto. A previous reviewer called this opera "camp," but it's too fine to be camp (despite the cross dressing). The classical subject (how the nymph Calisto is seduced by Jove, transformed into a bear by his jealous wife Hera, and eventually becomes the constellation Ursa Major) is very elegantly handled. The production has an intimate-yet-lavish feel, like a royal masque. It's conducted to perfection on period instruments by Rene Jacobs (in very fine form here), and sung to the hilt by the entire cast. And the music itself? As if Orpheus had written it, a cross between Monteverdi and Handel. I'll definitely be looking for more Cavalli in the future. Also included is a one hour "making of" feature, and a few other extras. The 2 disc set is exquisitely packaged by Harmonia Mundi. I give it my highest and most enthusiastic recommendation, particularly if you're a fan of baroque opera. The opera is geared to adults. It has phallic imagery and the sexual theme is sometimes treated explicity (although there's no nudity).
"…If you retain a place in your heart for this work, do try this performance. Its many ravishing moments easily win over the shortcomings." ~Grammophone