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Vivaldi: Ottone in Villa


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Product details

  • Performer: Sonia Prina, Julia Lezhneva, Veronica Cangemi, Roberta Invernizzi, Topi Lehtipuu
  • Orchestra: Il Giardino Armonico
  • Conductor: Giovanni Antonini
  • Composer: Antonio Vivaldi
  • Audio CD (15 Nov 2010)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Naive
  • ASIN: B004215TO0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,248 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Sinfonia: Allegro
2. Larghetto
3. [Allegro]
4. Atto primo: Scena 1 [Cleonilla] Recitativo
5. Scena 1 [Cleonilla] Aria Quanto m'alletta
6. Scena 2 [Cleonilla, Caio] Recitativo
7. Scena 2 [Caio] Aria Sole degl'occhi miei
8. Scena 2 [Cleonilla, Caio] Recitativo
9. Scena 3 [Ottone, Caio, Cleonilla] Recitativo
10. Scena 3 [Cleonilla] Aria Caro bene
See all 36 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Scena 6 [Cleonilla, Caio] Recitativo
2. Scena 6 [Caio] Aria Leggi almeno, tiranna infedele
3. Scena 7 [Cleonilla, Ottone] Recitativo
4. Scena 7 [Cleonilla] Aria Tu vedrai
5. Scena 8 [Decio, Cleonilla, Ottone] Recitativo
6. Scena 8 [Cleonilla] Aria Povera fedeltà
7. Scena 9 [Decio, Ottone] Recitativo
8. Scena 9 [Decio] Aria Ben talor favella il Cielo
9. Scena 10 [Ottone, Caio] Recitativo
10. Scena 10 [Ottone] Aria Compatisco il tuo fiero tormento
See all 27 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Product Description

Personnel: Sonia Prina - contralto (Ottone), Julia Lezhneva - soprano (CaioSilio), Veronica Cangemi - soprano (Cleonilla), Roberta Invernizzi - soprano (Tullia), Topi Lehtipuu - tenor (Decio), Il Giardino Armonico, Giovanni Antonini (director)

BBC Review

Ottone in Villa was Vivaldi’s first opera – the first of 94, if the composer’s own testimony is to be believed (it probably shouldn’t be; fewer than 30 survive). By 1713, the date of its composition, the fame of the "Red Priest" was spreading widely throughout Europe thanks to his colourful instrumental concertos. He was well established in Venice, but the city’s unrivalled opera heritage was possibly too daunting an obstacle to any operatic ambitions Vivaldi might have nursed: this first attempt was ushered in with little ceremony in nearby Vicenza. Ottone is humbler in scale than many lavish operas of the time, but there is no lack of musical invention or showmanship – particularly when brought to life with such verve by a terrific cast under conductor Giovanni Antonini, with the trademark percussive vibrancy of Il Giardino Armonico.

The opera’s true gem is a dramatic scena in Act Two featuring the mocking commentary of wronged lover Tullia (Roberta Invernizzi), shrouded in echoing swirls of solo violins and recorders, unheard by the centre-stage Caio pouring forth tortured lament – ravishingly sung by sensational Russian soprano Julia Lezhneva. Her barnstorming vengeance aria at the end of Act One fizzes with rapid-fire coloratura and sky-high ornamentation.

Much of the music is standard Baroque fare but, this being Vivaldi, there is usually something special to admire – such as the raging tornado alternating with tender reflection in the Act One aria for Roman Emperor Ottone, sung by rich-voiced, impassioned contralto Sonia Prina.

The convoluted plot (a typical web of courtly intrigue) is harder to follow than most because four of the five principal roles are played by women – but only two are actually female characters. To muddy the waters further, one of these is playing a woman disguised as a man. Confused? Of course, but it doesn’t matter: what counts is the expressiveness of the performances. A bass aria or two would have been welcome for tonal variety; poor tenor role Decio, well-sung by Topi Lehtipuu, gets the least inspiring numbers.

Despite its almost apologetic origins, Ottone proved successful enough to drum up subsequent commissions from Venice. There is a wealth of Vivaldi opera to explore – an exciting prospect if treated as compellingly as this. It’s not the first recording of Ottone in Villa, but it will be hard to beat.

--Graham Rogers

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jon Chambers TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Dec 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
After listening recently to a couple of Vivaldi operas and learning of the complexities surrounding their recording (specifically, Orlando 1714 and Motezuma) it is a great relief to be able to deal with one work that has not needed wholesale restoration. As well as being Vivaldi's first official operatic composition, Ottone in villa is one of the least problematic. Its score is (relatively) undisturbed and unambiguous. The opera itself, meanwhile, is succinct, colourful and rewarding. And, of course, being the 'first', it does not recycle material from previous operas. (Attentive listeners will, however, recognise themes from the Oboe Concerto in C RV447 and Laudate pueri in c RV600.)

This particular recording, by Antonini and Il Giardino Armonico, is more imaginative and arresting than the only other one I've heard (on the Chandos label) and has a lightness of touch that is entirely appropriate for the score. It also benefits from having a booklet which is very much up-to-date with recent research. A couple of years ago, I read an article (in Studi Vivaldiani) which suggested that Vivaldi was already composing operas under another composer's name by 1705. It is a fascinating detail explored in the booklet's introduction. If it's true that Vivaldi had been composing operatic material a decade or so before the appearance of Ottone, it explains why his 'debut' opera bears all the marks of maturity - as with Beethoven's piano sonatas, where even the Opus 2 set emerge fully-fledged. Frédéric Delaméa is surely right when he describes Ottone as 'a tyro effort which at once proclaims the master'.

An entirely satisfying opera is matched by an equally satisfying performance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Jan 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
"Ottone in Villa", Vivaldi's first opera, written at the relatively late age of 35, received its first performance in Vicenza on 17 May 1713. History does not record its reception, but some musicologists claim to have found evidence that there were revivals in 1714 and 1716 as indicators that it was received positively. But it's clear that Antonio must have done something right as he was able to embark on his successful double career as impresario and opera composer at Venice just a few months later. On top of this, arias from the opera were widely disseminated as far as London and Hamburg, and there is a confirmed revival in modified form supervised by Vivaldi himself at Treviso in 1729.

The plot revolves around a Roman emperor Ottone and his mistress Cleonilla, who, having taken Caio as a lover, casts him aside and falls instead for the handsome servant Ostillo, who is in fact Tullia, the jilted lover of Caio, in disguise and scheming to take revenge. Meanwhile the gullible Ottone continues to be hoodwinked about his mistress' activities, despite the attempts of his advisor Decio to warn him. Various shenanigans ensure before in the end restitution is made, with the still in the dark Ottone reconciled with Cleonilla and Caio marrying Tullia, and "nothing is lost save honour".

Vivaldi's premier opera may have been a long time coming, but it's clear that he hit the ground running and years of experience put him in good stead. Though perhaps a little understated and unassuming considered aside later works, it's Vivaldi on good form, and combined with these performances it makes for any enjoyable set.
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By Scarpa Giuseppe on 25 Aug 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Always super!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A delight 30 Dec 2012
By Jon Chambers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
After listening recently to a couple of Vivaldi operas and learning of the complexities surrounding their recording (specifically, Orlando 1714 and Motezuma) it is a great relief to be able to deal with one work that has not needed wholesale restoration. As well as being Vivaldi's first official operatic composition, Ottone in villa is one of the least problematic. Its score is (relatively) undisturbed and unambiguous. The opera itself, meanwhile, is succinct, colourful and rewarding. And, of course, being the 'first', it does not recycle material from previous operas. (Attentive listeners will, however, recognise themes from the Oboe Concerto in C RV447 and Laudate pueri in c RV600.)

This particular recording, by Antonini and Il Giardino Armonico, is more imaginative and arresting than the only other one I've heard (on the Chandos label) and has a lightness of touch that is entirely appropriate for the score. It also benefits from having a booklet which is very much up-to-date with recent research. A couple of years ago, I read an article (in Studi Vivaldiani) which suggested that Vivaldi was already composing operas under another composer's name by 1705. It is a fascinating detail explored in the booklet's introduction. If it's true that Vivaldi had been composing operatic material a decade or so before the appearance of Ottone, it explains why his 'debut' opera bears all the marks of maturity - as with Beethoven's piano sonatas, where even the Opus 2 set emerge fully-fledged. Frédéric Delaméa is surely right when he describes Ottone as 'a tyro effort which at once proclaims the master'. (Incidentally, vivaldians might care to know that it's very much easier to subscribe to Studi Vivaldiani in the US than it is in the UK, where subscription is declined even when offering to pay in Euros! There's even a subscripton link on the appropriate page of Amazon.com over in the States.)

An entirely satisfying opera is matched by an equally satisfying performance. This, the earliest of Vivaldi's operas (according to current knowledge, at least), is 'orchestral' in its colours and inspiration. One of the delights of this recording is its use of a wide range of instrumental colour. Particularly effective here are the innovative use of a harp as one of the continuo instruments, and the sopranino recorder, which enhances the breezy and bucolic atmosphere of the aria, Io sembro appunto, in Act II. Variety of texture is another feature. A solo violin accompanies the soprano aria, Guarda in quest'occhi, in Act III, and quite possibly recreates Vivaldi's own role during the opera's premiere in Vicenza on 17 May, 1713. Full marks to Naive yet again for an assured addition to their increasingly impressive catalogue.
Five Stars 28 July 2014
By Tony - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I am happy with any Vivaldi Opera.
6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Surprising! 28 Feb 2011
By C. Briley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I'm a fan of Vivaldi's orchestral and choral works and have not heard many of his "dramma per musica". This CD is a delightful surprise. From the outset he sets the tone that every note, breath, and movement have a deep meaning to each character or situation. It's not just an early-ish opera that bores you... the music is interesting, providing flourishes and varying dynamics to bring you into the character's mindset. You can't go wrong with Vivaldi!
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Lezhneva is a disappointment... 21 Jun 2011
By Rob - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Very stylish performance. All singers are more or less adequate except Lezhneva. Her voice is not focused and not clear. She is also not fully in control of it. Moreover, Lezhneva make no attempt to give sense to music she performs...

Antonini directs "Il Giardino Armonico" in very soft manner, which maybe lacks drive of Spinosi or Alessandrini recordings, but is full of inner energy and sense. This make one listen it over and over again each time discovering new nuances in music.
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