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This review is from: Landi: Sant' Alessio [DVD]  (DVD)
Stefano Landi "Il Sant'Allessio", for those who are not familiar with Baroque period and never heard about the composer nor listened this sort of Music is not the best start!
Though, if you're already a listener, a lover of Renaissance and Baroque Music and haven't seen this yet, please don't miss it!
As I am here to help and be helped (I often buy items according to other custommers oppinions) and before you make a mistake, I may suggest you buy first or at least try to listen, an Audio-CD (also available in Amazon.UK) called "Landi: Homo Fugit Velut Umbra" from the remarkable Ensemble L'ARPEGGIATA directed by Christina Pluhar. I assure you it is an (at least) four star work and an easier introduction to Landi.
Everything shines on that Stage! Not only the Candle Lights but also the costumes, the voices and performances!
I am suspicious because I'm a fan of male-altos, but I think we agree, Philippe Jaroussky is among the best Counter-Ténors of his generation. A perfect Castrato and a Star in the role of Allessio.
Another Star is Max Emanuel Cencic. His perfect voice and impressive performance playing Alexis wife is remarkable!
Alain Buet and Xavier Sabata in the roles of Allessio father and mother are excellent, followed by the amazing Bass Luigi De Donato in the powerful role of Demonnio (the Devil), and the delightful angelic Terry Wey in the part of Religion Rome.
In spite of my preferences all the Singers go well. Even the Children whose solo parts have (not serious) "ups" and "downs", in group behave well. Facing a great Audience must be terrifying for the poor little Boys!
To close the scenery, Les Arts Florissants with William Christie and an amazing Choreography and Stage Directing.
In 1632 Catholic Society despised Women, and their appearence on Stages was forbidden because they represented a "...Threat to Public Morality..."! So, Men disguised as Women were required to sing female roles. They were all Castrati.
William Christie and Benjamin Lazar, recreated this work in a form as close as possible to the strange Reality of that period, and we consequently have, the unique opportunity to see and listen, the almost simultaneous presence of eight Counter-Ténors on Stage doing an amazing job!
The Climax of this Piece is achieved in the Last Act before the great Finale, along the dramatic Ceremony of Alessio's Funeral when emotions easily flow through our eyes!
Landi's "Sant'Allessio", is a rich cocktail of Fun and Drama, superb Acting and Singing, Austerity and Luxury as someone has said before. And this powerful mixture was strong enough to build a Masterpiece!