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on 20 January 2009
First of all, it's impossible to articulate adequately Ms. DiDonato's talents, vocal or interpretive. Much praise has already been written, all deserved. She can do seemingly everything possible with the human voice, due to a technique that is based purely on the breath (a thing which is surprisingly more rare these days than one would like to believe), and a mind so sharply attuned to the underlying meaning of music and text, that her voice cannot but follow its demands.

For those who labor under the misapprehension that Baroque music is staid and (yes, I have heard it said) passionless, give this CD a listen, and you'll realize just how wrought with human emotion this music is, if there are artists intelligent and daring enough to plumb its considerable depths. From the searing insanity of Dejaneira to the piercing poignancy of Ariodante, this wonderful collection scans the landscape of heart and mind, painted to stunning effect with the multi-coloured palette of Ms. DiDonato's voice, which is matched hue for hue by Les Talens Lyrique under the insightful baton of Christophe Rousset.

I'm sure there are Baroque specialists who would quibble with some of Ms. DiDonato's embellishments; but surely no one can deny the absolute conviction with which they are executed, nor the drama they convey. As to the suitability of her voice for Handel, let me just assert that I find it refreshing to hear a full-blooded instrument with a natural, unapologetic vibrato singing this glorious music. That is not to say that Ms. DiDonato avoids straight tone--on the contrary, she uses it often, to mesmerizing effect; but is is just that: an EFFECT, not an entire school of singing.

This CD should be a prize possession in any vocal music lover's collection. Buy it, and revel in Handelian sublimity.
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VINE VOICEon 15 April 2009
Joyce DiDonato has appeared in several recent CDs, and this first recital disc of Handel arias is further evidence of a considerable talent. Her bright mezzo coloratura voice is used to great effect in many of the arias, but she also the ability to shade her voice for some of the quieter passages, especially the introductory recits. Her breath control is magnificent; her vocal range is astounding. The only current performer who matches her is Sarah Connolly (who has recorded a similar Handel programme) and that says a lot. The programme itself is well selected, with contrasting arias: the Hercules excerpts (Tracks 13 and 14) are examples. But try Track 1 first - a remarkable piece of singing in contrasting styles that makes an excellent introduction to the CD.
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This was Joyce DiDonato's first recital disc and it must be reckoned an enormous success. The disc features a selection of Handel heroines, thwarted, betrayed, tortured and despairing, who give vent to their fury and anguish in a series of extraordinary arias. Some, like the opening track from "Serse" and the arias from "Semele" and "Hercules," (both particular favourites of mine) are, indeed, outpourings of fury, while others, such as the ravishing "Scherza infada," are slower and more reflective. Ms DiDonato dispatches both with equal aplomb. At times, this is high-risk singing, "singing on the edge," but it is always supremely musical and Ms DiDonato eschews the machine-gun coloratura of Italian mezzos of a similar vintage who shall remain nameless. She is an outstanding talent. The accompaniment, from Christophe Rousset and Les Talents Lyriques, is first-rate. Snap it up, especially at this bargain price!
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on 5 March 2013
I've always been a real fan of Cecilia Bartoli, but I'd have to say that DiDonato's voice is even better! It has a more 'earthy' quality to counteract Cecilia's sweetness. This album was a real revelation. I listened to a single extract when the album appeared in one of Amazon's bargain offers and I was hooked. If you like Handel and the mezzo voice, buy this album.
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on 4 October 2008
I haven't heard the CD yet, but I was at the concert where it was recorded. If this CD captures even one percent of the energy, the emotion and the fury that Ms DiDonato displayed at this outstanding concert, this CD is a must-have, especially if you're into Händel. Amazing.
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on 24 May 2014
I love Joyce DiDonato's voice. Heard her live several times and it's always a great pleasure. This record has a great variety of songs, every one a gem.
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on 5 July 2015
Not as thrilling as I was expecting, it may improve on further listening. I have heard better from this brilliant singer.
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on 3 June 2015
Stunning music and of course no one can better the amazing voice of Joyce DiDonato. Strongly recommend buying this.
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on 27 November 2014
A must for those who enjoy excellent singing. A good introduction to Handel's vocal Music.
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on 17 July 2013
I am an Amazon fan and a faithful client. I do want to leave positive reviews when they are deserved but I don't have enough fantasy to invent a new review every time. So: simply perfect. Thx
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