2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Excoriatingly emotional performances,
This review is from: Handel : Theodora [DVD]  [NTSC] (DVD)
I always think that it was a shame that the cast of this production were not corralled into the studio to produce a CD of this extraordinary collaboration. As it is, we have this DVD of one of the greatest performances of Handel opera or oratorio. The five American leads, Christie, Daniels, Lieberson, Shaw and Croft invest such emotion into their performances that they transcend the usual oratorio setting of Theodora to something more operatic (and one feels they would have accomplished this with a bare stage as well as with Sellars' more abstract staging). Lieberson's performance of Irene is definitive, painfully intense, almost excoriating. I have never heard another performance, baroque or otherwise, like it. Daniels' Didymus is outstanding; it's a rich performance of vocal agility and nuance, which more than established him as the greatest Handelian counter-tenor. His artistry is sublime. Richard Croft, is without a doubt the most adept Handelian tenor, and he catches the intensity from his fellow performers and delivers a beautiful performance as Septimius, especially his Descent kind pity. Dawn Upshaw is very good, but compared to her three fellow cast members, she lacks a bit of their intensity; she seems just a bit reserved even for such a character as Theodora--it's a minor quibble about a stunning production. I always thought Theodora was Handel's minor key masterpiece, but this production makes me think that it might be his greatest vocal work.