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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The "ideal" Floridante?, 24 Aug 2011
E. L. Wisty "World Domination League" (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Handel - Floridante (Audio CD)
Floridante was composed during difficult period for Handel. Gionvanni Bononcini had arrived in London in 1720 and soon began to eclipse Handel in the affections of the opera going public - it was their rivalry which coined the phrase "Tweedledum and Tweedledee".

Handel had lost the services of his librettist Nicola Haym, and had to fall back upon Paolo Antonio Rolli, who it seems perhaps had a greater self-assessment of his own poetic ability than was the case, and also lacked sufficient instinct for composing for the stage.

Worse was to come, as star soprano Margherita Durastanti fell ill in Italy and would not be able to return to England in time for the season. Handel was forced to completely recast the part of Elmira for contralto Anastasia Robinson, and in turn change Robinson's contralto part for soprano Maddalena Salvai.

The booklet goes into some detail on the modifications Handel made for the first performances in 1721. Curtis has with this recording restored as far as possible Handel's "original ideal".

I fear that I am simply going to run over the same ground as the previous reviewer here as I am almost totally in agreement. Contralto Marijana Mijanovic (Floridante) is a little patchy and seems to lack the breath control which would be expected of an opera singer at this level. Mezzo Joyce DiDonato (Elmira) can be by turns either a bit average or else truly stunning. I sometimes wonder why Curtis has not re-recorded a piece here and there, and question whether he is perhaps a little too "luvvie" with his leading ladies to be sufficiently critical.

Soprano Sharon Rostorf-Zamir (Rosanne) is a performer I have not previously encountered, but she is truly splendid, and soprano Roberta Invernizzi (Timante) is always dependable. Bass Vito Priante is good value as usual playing the baddie Oronte, and baritone Riccardo Novaro supports well in the minor role of Coralbo.

Despite the faults and criticisms, and despite this not being, partly due to circumstance, one of Handel's most inspired compositions, there really is much to enjoy in this set which will give me pleasure for many years to come.

The three discs are packaged in a double jewel case along with a booklet providing background notes, synopsis and libretto with translation in English, French & German.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a welcome addition to the catalogue, 27 July 2007
Nico Deloddere (Belgium) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Handel - Floridante (Audio CD)
Floridante dates from 1721 and is one of the predecessors from 'Giulio Cesare', where Handel's inspiration reached a peak.
Floridante is not on that level, some routine work is included, Carolbo's third act (and only) aria, to name one.
But there are some gems that made me love this work, especially in this great recording. Alan Curtis fully deserves his place as one of the leading Handel conductors, not in the league of Minkowski or Gardiner, but certainly better than McGegan, King or McCreesh.
His choice of tempos is always judicious, and there's enough dramatic tension, even if the libretto is not Handel's greatest.
The characters of Rossane and Timante do not contribute a lot to the plot,
although they have some great music, and a moving duet in the middle of the second act. Sharon Rostorf-Zamir is a name that is new to me, she sings Rossane with great success, a clear and pure soprano. Roberta Invernizzi as Timante adds another succesful role here to her career.

Most attention goes to the primo uomo Floridante and the prima donna Elmira. Marijana Mijanovic's performance has received some very bad critics. Most of it is true: problematic intonation and clumsy aspiration certainly do not do justice to a role that was written for the great Senesino. Her act 2 'Bramo te sola' is simply unacceptable and I can not understand why the producers did not record this again. On the other hand, her recitatives are always stylish and the act 3 siciliano 'se dolce m'era' could not be more moving. Floridante gets a prison scene later in act 3 that is equally excellent. In the end, how strange it may be, I really love this flawed performance because the highlights are so exceptional.
Joyce DiDonate is an Elmira of equal imperfection. She starts off very bad in her first arias, strangely uninvolved.
She is far better later on, certainly in act 2 where Handel is at his most original: her arioso 'Notte cara' is interupped by an poignant accompagnato and then repeated, to a startling effect.
She has another accompagnato further on: 'Sorte nemica, hai vinto'. To hear DiDonato sing those lines convinces me that she is really a great artist.
The villain Oronte gets some good singing from Vito Priante, although I do not find his music exceptional.

To sum up: a spotted performance that is very difficult to rate.
But Curtis, Mijanovic and DiDonato got me hooked on Floridante, and I could not be without these CDs...
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Handel: Il Floridante, HWV 14
Handel: Il Floridante, HWV 14 by Marijana Mijanovic
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