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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars With a philosophical flourish..., 17 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Vivaldi: Catone in Utica (Il Complesso Barocco/Curtis) (Audio CD)
...Cato throws himself upon his sword. Or possibly not. Metastasio's first libretto, employed by Leonardo Vinci in 1728, involved Cato slowly dying across the second and third acts. Receiving a somewhat mixed reception, he rewrote the libretto so that in Leonardo Leo's 1729 production Cato's death was offstage and simply reported. Vivaldi's 1737 setting took the knife to Metastasio, and "in order to render the drama shorter and more cheerful in this season of spring" somewhat bizarrely removed Cato's suicide completely and instead has him entering into a rather improbable reconciliation with Caesar.

Despite such historical liberties, the opera, Vivaldi's third and final one in Verona, was an unqualified success, though from this recording it's difficult to feel that this is Vivaldi at his best (the first act is lost, so here it is a reconstruction using some borrowed Vivaldi arias and some newly composed ones inspired by his instrumental music), and it doesn't really catch fire. Perhaps this is partly down to Curtis and the performers. It lacks a little of the verve and sparkle that Curtis is capable of, and the great cast do not in general feel entirely at their best. Tenor Topi Lehtipuu as Catone feels strangely tremulous in parts. Soprano Roberta Mameli (Cesare), mezzo Ann Hallenberg (Emilia), contralto Sonia Prina (Marzia), mezzo Romina Basso (Fulvio) all put in performances which are very good but not truly superb by their own standards (Hallenberg probably the pick of the bunch), and in the case of Mameli and Prina in particular the recording catches too much of their breathing. Soprano Emőke Baráth (Arbace) is fine but her Italian diction I find very unclear.

The booklet contains notes on the first act reconstruction, historical notes on the opera and a synopsis (all in French/English/Italian/German), plus full libretto with English and French translations. Just about scrapes four stars. Perhaps more one for the completists.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Sep 2013 23:41:10 BDT
Thank you for your interesting and useful review. But no, thanks, I don't trust Curtis anymore.
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