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Handel - Riccardo Primo, re d'Inghilterra / Zazzo, Rial, McGreevy, Kammerorchster Basel, Goodwin Box set

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Performer: Lawrence Zazzo, Nuria Rial, Geraldine McGreevy, Tim Mead, David Wilson-Johnson, et al.
  • Orchestra: kammerorchesterbasel
  • Conductor: Paul Goodwin
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (5 May 2008)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: deutsche harmonia mundi (DHM)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 270,734 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Overture
  2. Lascia Barardo (Accompagnato)
  3. Sperei, l'amato bene (Aria)
  4. Se la vergin
  5. Vado per oberdirti (Aria)
  6. T'arresta, Oronte
  7. V'adoro, o luci belle (Aria)
  8. Torni la gioia
  9. Ceseta è la procella (Aria)
  10. Cortese a noi si mostra
  11. Bella, teco non ho (Aria)
  12. Oronte - Sire
  13. Sire, a te britanico
  14. Lascia la pace (Aria)
  15. Isacio, il cui gran meto
  16. Agitato da fiere (Aria)

Disc: 2

  1. Se m'è contrario (Arioso)
  2. Seco Isacio
  3. Dell'empia frode (Aria)
  4. Riccardo sospirato
  5. Di notte il pelle (Aria)
  6. Quanto saresti
  7. All'affetto di padre
  8. Ti vedro regnar (Aria)
  9. Ah padre, ah Cielo (Accompagnato)
  10. Quel gelsomino (Aria)
  11. Prencipe, ognor compagna
  12. Caro, vieni a me (Aria)
  13. Quanto tarda (Arioso)
  14. Ma, vedo torgeggia
  15. Si, già vedo (Arioso)
  16. Vieni, bell' idol
  17. Al fin da conte spade
  18. Ai guardi tuoi (Aria)
  19. Si sforzi alla ragion
  20. O vendi carmi (Aria)
  21. Che mai pensa tardar
  22. Dell'onor di giuste (Aria)
  23. Ah! Scampo dagli
  24. Mira, e da saggio
  25. Nube che il sole (Aria)
  26. Si m'è contrario (Arioso)
  27. Mesta e pensosa
  28. L'aquilla altera (Aria)
  29. Tutti passati affani
  30. T'amo si (Duet)

Disc: 3

  1. Perfido Isacio (Accompagnato)
  2. Per mia vendetta (Aria)
  3. O voi che meco (Accompagnato)
  4. All'orror delle (Aria)
  5. Morte, vieni (Aria)
  6. A me nel mio rosore
  7. Quell'innocente (Aria)
  8. Alto immenseo Poter (Accompagnato)
  9. In giustizia e furore
  10. Dall' alta rocca
  11. Nel mondo nel abisso (Aria)
  12. Pulcheria vuol che seco
  13. Bacia per me la mano (Aria)
  14. Alterrato il muro (Aria)
  15. Arrestati, Riccardo
  16. Empio, perisci tu
  17. Coro e sinfonia
  18. Dal passato spavento
  19. Il volo così (Aria)
  20. Pietoso ciel
  21. Liete nuove, idol mio
  22. Tuta brillanti rai (Aria)
  23. Marcia
  24. Generoso Pulcheria
  25. Volgete ogni desir (Aria)
  26. Spargansi pur d'oblio
  27. La memoria dei tormenti (Coro)

Product Description

RCA 88697174212; RCA - Italia;

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Riccardo Primo is one of those "quite good" Handel operas - not a patch on the magnificent Admeto which was premiered in the same year, but better than the rather bland Siroe which followed it.

Christophe Rousset's 1996 set has had the field to itself for over a decade. It's a fine performance, well played, sung and directed but I've always felt it to be a little unexciting. While there's no shortage of vitality, I have always sensed a certain lack of variety permeating the three hours of music.

However, it has been universally applauded by music critics, so Paul Goodwin needed to come up with something pretty good to trump Monsieur Rousset.

So how does he do?

Well, the first thing one notices is the choice of singer for the title role. Goodwin opts for countertenor Lawrence Zazzo over a female alto or mezzo. In that respect I suppose one could argue that Sara Mingardo (Rousset's set) perhaps sounds closer to what the original singer, Senesino, might have sounded like - although of course we will never know. However, this is not an impersonation contest and I personally prefer listening to Zazzo. He has a beautiful voice; sweet, but strong enough to avoid the choirboy sound that can so easily spoil the interpretation of these heroic roles.

In other respects, I think Rousset may just have the edge. Nuria Rial sings the role of Costanza well enough, but I think anyone attempting to go head-to-head with Sandrine Piau has to accept the inevitable.

The villain, Isacio, is sung by David Wilson-Johnson. As good as he is, I think that Roberto Scaltriti for Rousset is quite superb.

One weakness in Rousset's set is Claire Brua. I cannot warm to her rather rich and plumy tone.
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I agree almost completely with the previous reviewer "Paul C", and will only add a few additional points. One I do not hear any fuzziness in the recorded sound, but I do hear annoying errors in the Italian pronounciation in the singing of Streetman (Berardo), who doesn't seem to know how a double consonant changes the pronounciation compared with a single consonant and Rial (Costanza) who doesn't know the difference between an open or a closed Italian "e" and has weakness in accent and consonant sounds, all of which could have easily been corrected with a little help from the language coach. The difference between this version and the Rousset is that the orchestral playing is much more dynamic and almost grabs you by the collar and makes you pay attention in a way. So as the previous reviewer said this is why it is more dramatic than the Rousset version, and ultimately more enjoyable even though Piau is a better Costanza, everything overrides the better singing quality of Piau on the Rousset recording and thus makes this the recording of choice in my opinion.
Final point: there is NO PRINTED LIBRETTO BOOKLET included. You have to print one from the PDF file included on CD 1. This I find deplorable for a first issue recording.
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Listening to 'Riccardo Primo' in isolation one could easily conclude that it is the finest of the five operas written during the 'Rival Divas' era - there is a great deal of wonderful music in this opera and the plot is reasonably intriguing and not too ridiculous (as opera seria plots generally go). Of course in truth 'Admeto' is probably the best of the five but I very much enjoyed trawling through 'Riccardo Primo' again in this recording of the piece by Paul Goodwin on DHM.

Having owned the older recording from Rousset for some years now, I was curious to hear this newer version especially as reviews have been so favourable. Finding a clear 'winner' between the two recordings is pretty much impossible however as both versions have much to recommend them. I do agree that Goodwin gets more drama from the piece and is the more exciting of the two. Rousset's reading is beautifully detailed but more laid back. Often Goodwin's tempos are more upbeat and I think this benefits the piece - the storm music is much improved.

As to casting, well that's going to be down to personal preference. Mingardo is in glorious, sumptious voice for Rousset in the title role but again, Lawrence Zazzo makes more of the words and is the more exciting singer. By conntrast, Piau has the more dramatic voice as Costanza (for Rousset) but then again perhaps Nuria Rial's gentle, soft-grained voice is more apt for this wilting violet role. In the Faustina role of Pulcheria, Claire Brua was always the blot on the landscape on Rousset's recording - her contralto really too fruity and heavy for the role. Geraldine McGreevy for Goodwin is far preferable and does make something dramatically of the role too.
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Not much to add to the other excellent review other than to say I agree! This is one of my top Handel opera recordings and it is a sheer delight. Geraldine McGreevy's Pulcheria is wonderful; clear as a bell and highly virtuosic. Zazzo proves more than capable of delivering the fiendishly difficult coloratura in the aria at the end of Act 1. And Tim Mead is a delight as Oronte, for example in V'adoro, o luci belle.

The plot is rather silly - basically it says that the British monarchy is really great! There are lines that say (very roughly) "England is built on the backs of all those great people who live near the Thames" alluding to the aristocracy in Handel's audience! There is a reason for this. Premiered on November 11 1727, it was just a month after King George II's coronation, and Handel had been recently granted British naturalisation... hence all the pomp and odd references to Britain in the setting of the Holy Land!

Riccardo Primo, Re d'Inghilterra contains some fantastic soprano arias. Written for the 'rival queens' (who literally fought on stage once), Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni were given very even-handed roles in this opera. In this recording, these prove wonderful material for our modern day sopranos: Geraldine McGreevy and Nuria Rial.

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