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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous example of early opera, 25 Jan. 2011
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E. L. Wisty "World Domination League" (O'er Hill And Dale) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Landi - Il Sant'Alessio / Les Arts Florissants, Christie (Audio CD)
Stefano Landi's "Il Sant' Alessio" of 1631 is something of a landmark in the history of opera, being the first to treat an (apparently) historical rather than mythological subject, and analysing the psychology of the protagonist.

The plot is based around the shadowy figure of the fifth century Saint Alexis, the son of a wealthy Roman senator who, in order to follow his desired ascetic path after returning from the Holy Land, lived incognito as a beggar under the stairs in his father's house. Alexis is forced to resist the temptation to reveal himself when his parents and wife intend to set out for the Holy Land to search for him, and also is subjected to the temptations of the Devil. Only after his death do his family realise who he is, from a letter he holds.

Whilst the are many similarities in style to his predecessors such as Monteverdi, Landi here displays many innovations and uses the latest techniques - the structure of recitatives, arias & ensembles, the makeup of the orchestra, the first use of overtures in the form of "canzonas", and the use of variety of styles - dances and comic scenes mixing with the serious and tragic.

The large cast here are mostly unknown to me except for a brief previous acquaintance with Patricia Petibon (Saint Alexis) and Sophie Marin-Degor (his wife). All acquit themselves well in an enjoyable performance.

Two discs in cardboard sleeves, along with chunky booklet with libretto and translation and noted in English, French & German, all inside a hinged cardboard box. An excellent package.
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Landi - Il Sant'Alessio / Les Arts Florissants, Christie
Landi - Il Sant'Alessio / Les Arts Florissants, Christie by William Christie & Les Arts Florissants (Audio CD - 2007)
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