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OPP 1308; OPERA D'ORO - Stati Uniti; Classica Lirica
Top Customer Reviews
Listening to this recording it is clear that Scarlatti had a strong influence on Handel and Mozart and deserves to be better known.
This live performance, which dates back to 1970 sounds a little old fashioned by today's "authentic" standards, but is certainly not anachronistic. The conductor was Nino Sanzogno and the lead singers are Mirella Freni, Luigi Alva and Rolando Panerai. They have certainly brought this forgotten music to life. The performance, in Naples, must have been an inspiring experience.
Alas, the technical quality of the recording is very poor. It is a shame that a proper recording was not made, but I suppose at the time there was no market for this composer's works. The leaflet which accompanies the CD is also very poor. There is no libretto and the list of tracks does not even identify who is singing what.
Rene Jacobs has recently performed "Griselda" and a recording will doubtless follow. It will be interesting to see how it compares with Sanzogno's interpretation.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The music throughout is first-rate and revelatory. Themes start one way and then go off in directions that were not anticipated. The orchestration is rich and interesting. And there are an unusual, for baroque opera, number of ensembles; duets, a trio, and a quartet.
This performance under Rene Jacobs is superb. All the singers acquit themselves well and sing with style and sensitivity. Roschman and Fink are particularly fine, but there are really no weak links. Orchestra is clear, crisp, and virtuosic. Recorded sound, packaging, booklet, all truly excellent. One of the best things to come out this year.
It is surprising to me that with all the recent interest in Baroque opera this recording has not become better-known. The entire cast (and Mirella Freni in particular) do a tremendous job, proving that La Griselda, Scarlatti's last and finest opera, really does deserve a place in the permanent repetoire. The entire work overflows with moments of breath-stopping beauty and resplendant melody (as in the aria da capo form that Scarlatti helped to popularize).
There are a few negatives, of course. Notably, the plot lacks a certain sense of dramatic motion (which is probably Scarlatti's biggest flaw in general), but this is typical of almost all Baroque operas. Also, the recording quality isn't too great. However, it does manage to capture the beauty and warmth of the singers, which is after all (in this opera at least) what's most important.
Really, at Opera d'Oro's low low price, I guarantee you will find this CD worth your money and time. Help bring this recording the attention it deserves.
'Griselda' was first performed in Rome in 1721, the last of Alessandro Scarlatti's seventy or so operas. The cast consisted of five castrati and a tenor; on this recording the five castrati are replaced with two sopranos, two mezzo sopranos and a countertenor.
Apostolo Zeno fashioned the subject of Griselda into an opera libretto in 1701. Briefly, the plot is as follows: The King of Sicily (Gualtiero portrayed by Lawrence Zazzo-countertenor) marries Griselda (portrayed by Dorthea Roschmann-soprano)much to the chagrin of the people, because she is below his station. Consequently, they will not recognize their offspring as heir to the throne. Gualtiero goes back and forth between supporting his wife, then testing her by taking their one child away and leaving one with her. With his pretended acts of cruelty, he is no longer fighting for his own convenience as a husband, but (so to speak )battling alongside his unsuspecting wife for their recognition in society and the preservation of the couple's happiness. Another "test" is when he tells her that she must marry Ottone(a courtier portrayed by Silvia Tro Santafe) and she refuses,at which point he hopefully will have convinced his people that she is a worthy and virtuous woman. There are so many twists and turns in this plot that I leave it to you to listen to the opera and you will understand it all.
Jacob's cast is ideal! Dorothea Roschman's Griselda is always noble, belying this character's humble origins. Her voice is beautiful. Lawrence Zazzo (Gualitiero-countertenor), while on one hand seeming cynical and insensitive, in his 'asides' he must convince us of his inherent goodness, and he does! His countertenor is a firm instrument, and he uses it remarkably well.
Mezzo Bernarda Fink excels in her trouser role of Roberto. Veronica Cangemi's singing is first-rate. Kobie van Rensburg as Corrado has bites in his delivery and indeed has a very exciting operatic voice. I especially liked his Act II aria: "Agitata da fiera procella". Just glorious!!!
The singing is absolutely superb, and I find no fault with Jacob's pace and interpretation. The only thing I found somewhat annoying was the overabundance of treble voices; especially the two women who were portraying men. It was easy to determine Zazzo's sound because he has a truly Male quality even though he is a countertenor, but I don't think this type of thing can be avoided if one wants to be authentic in the casting. It's an exellent Scarlatti listening experience; it's quite dramatic, very melodious and has much variety of tempo and phrasing.
It is packaged with a booklet with all the pertinent information and text.