I was fortunate enough to see this production twice when it played in Vienna a couple of years ago and was enthralled. I always thought that the Director Herbert Wernicke was as funny and interesting as unbuttered toast, but here he came up with a staging that is both simple and utterly enthralling, with dancing bears, gods descending from the heavens and enough charming ideas to give Broadway a run for its money. The singers are delightful (especially Maria Bayo as Calisto and Domique Visse whose performance has to be seen to be believed - a whirlwind of movement, singing, bawdiness, charm and general mayhem).
René Jacobs conducts the Concerto Vocale in a version of the opera that came in for some flak from purists - tosh, I say. Cavalli is no Monteverdi and Calisto no Orfeo or Ulysse - Jacobs may have added instruments (and music by other composers - the bear, for example, dances to Tarquinio Merula's Chaconne and the opera ends with another Chaconne by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer), but by doing so, Jacobs has helped bring an opera back to life which otherwise would have remained on a shelf gathering dust.
One thing, though, which I despise about this DVD is the ending. During the final Chaconne, Wernicke had the beautiful idea of the picture of a bear being lifted into the heavens - one of the simplest and at the same time most beautiful theatrical moments I have ever witnessed. Guess what happens on the DVD - yes, they cut it! Whoever was responsible for this at Harmonia Mundi should hang their head in shame.
Otherwise, hours of pure bliss await you! So, what are you waiting for?