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Pergolesi: L'Olimpiade (Jesi 2011) (Raúl Giménez, Lyubov Petrova, Yetzabel Arias Fernández, Alessandro De Marchi) (Arthaus: 108064) [Blu-ray] [2013]

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Raúl Giménez, Lyubov Petrova, Yetzabel Arias Fernández, Jennifer Rivera, Sofia Soloviy
  • Format: Classical
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish, Korean
  • Region: All Regions (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Arthaus
  • DVD Release Date: 25 Feb. 2013
  • Run Time: 170 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00B5UBFK8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,182 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

LIVE RECORDING FROM THE TEATRO VALERIA MORICONI, JESI, 2011

Clistene RAÚL GIMÉNEZ
Aristea LYUBOV PETROVA
Argene YETZABEL ARIAS FERNÁNDEZ
Licida JENNIFER RIVERA
Megacle SOFIA SOLOVIY

ACADEMIA MONTIS REGALIS
Conductor ALESSANDRO DE MARCHI
Stage Director ITALO NUNZIATA

World Premiere Recording!

With Olimpiade the famous poet Metastasio created one of the most popular librettos of the 18th century. It was set to music by over 60 baroque and classical composers including Vivaldi, Caldara, Hasse, Cimarosa and Donizetti. Pergolesis composition from 1735 was one of the earliest adaptations.

In the 2011 Jesi production of LOlimpiade a large part of the auditorium is taken up by a cross-shaped platform. This is where the characters of the drama are introduced, where they elaborate their plans and express their innermost feelings, their sufferings and hopes, while the supreme ritual of the ancient Greek world, the Olympic Games, is celebrated on a distant stage: that event upon which their lives and all prospects of happiness or otherwise depend.

LOlimpiade stars a superb cast of young singers, especially to be named are the ladies in the leading roles Lyubov Petrova, Yetzabel Arias Fernández, Jennifer Rivera and Sofia Soloviy as well as famous Raúl Giménez in the role of King Clistene. Alessandro De Marchi has been involved in the interpretation of early music for a long time. His orchestra, specialized on the interpretation of baroque and classical compositions on period instruments, Academia Montis Regalis, was also involved in this project.

Sound Format: Audio 5.1 (Blu-ray)
Picture Format: 16:9, 1080i FULL HD
Format: DVD 9 & DVD 5 / NTSC, 50 GB (Dual Layer)
Subtitle Languages: IT (Original Language),GB, DE, FR, ES, JP, Korean
Running Time: 170 mins
FSK: 0
Region Code: 0 (DVD)

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Despite it having one of the most convoluted plots of any opera, Pietro Metastasio's L'Olimpiade was one of the most popular texts for Baroque composers. Originally set to music by Antonio Caldara in 1733, it was most notably followed by Vivaldi's version in 1734 and Pergolesi's in 1735, but the libretto has also been set around 60 times by composers such as Hasse, Galuppi, Jommelli, Cimarosa and Piccinni. Thanks to the Fondazione Pergolesi-Spontini's initiative to revive and release recorded performances of all the composer's operas in new critical editions, we finally have the opportunity to see Pergolesi's version of this immense work and it is something of a revelation. Not only is it one of Pergolesi's most beautiful works with perhaps the finest musical and singing performances we've seen yet from Jesi, but it also turns out to be one of the best settings of L'Olimpiade that exists.

All of Pergolesi's works released on Blu-ray so far have been given very strong productions with superb performances on period instruments by the very finest experts in this genre, but L'Olimpiade surpasses them all. To a large extent that's down to Pergolesi's distinctive and sparklingly expressive account of the work, where even the most tragic of circumstances and bitterness of sentiments have an achingly beautiful melancholic quality, but it's brought out exceptionally well by conductor Allesandro de Marchi and the musicians of the Academia Montis Regalis. The crystalline clarity and warmth of expression, with even the continuo sounding beautifully melodic, comes across particularly well in the HD sound recording here.

More than anything else however it's the singing that really conveys the true sentiments and strengths of this particular work.
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This production of L'Olimpiade by Pergolesi easily ranks among my favourite top ten operatic productions. One can readily imagine how Pergolesi himself would have been delighted with it. Apart from anything else, the staging is superb and just perfect for reproducing on DVD, in which genre all of the performers are visible to the viewer for virtually all of the time. We never have to wonder what so-and-so is doing out of shot of another when he/she is singing. The six silent masked participants (4 men and 2 women) were virtually never out of sight with everything they did relevant to the performance. This brilliant synchronisation is an art work in itself and a joy to watch.

The performers, who are surrounded by the audience, act on a stage with the absolute minimum of props. Best of all, the orchestra is not out of sight in a pit, but clearly visible in the background enabling the viewer to delight in seeing the fascinating period instruments including two massive lutes and a harp. This gives the home viewer the very real impression that the whole cast are saying to him/her: 'See! We're doing all this especially for you. We do hope you will enjoy it.' I certainly did. What's more, I've watched the performance three times already and doubt that I'll ever tire of it.

This is not all. It gets better. The singing is out of this world! I loved every moment of it. You couldn't fault any of the performers. Every nuance of emotion is carefully crafted into each note accompanied by the appropriate body language. The recitative is carefully crafted to bind together a wholes series of delightfully emotional songs enabling the viewer-listener to be caught up in an aura of inspiring sound and, on a few occasions, there's solo singing from a balcony.
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This is a truly marvellous performance on all counts. An attractive, gimmick-free production with a successful innovative approach, and - contrary to common practice to-day - with deep respect for the theatrical aesthetics of the Baroque opera. The story uses the ancient Olympic Games as a background for love rivalry, improbable deceptions, narrowly averted patricide and incest, and the eventual triumph of youthful virtue over the curses of the older generation.

The athlete Megacle is competing in the Olympic games under his friend Licida's name to win the hand of Aristea, which her father King Clistene has promised to the winner. Megacle has once been rescued from bandits by Licida, the son of the King of Crete. Owing his life to his friend, Megacle now feels bound by his promise to compete as Licida and agrees to enter the games under Licida's name. Aristea is however in love with Megacle, but her father has banished him from the kingdom. Licida, once betrothed to Princess Argene of Crete, is unaware that Megacle and Aristea already love each other. Things are further complicated by the arrival Argene, and by the revelation that Licida is actually Aristea's twin brother.

The production, designs and choreography are an absolute joy. The staging of the work at the Teatro Valeria Mariconi is unusual in that the director has opted for a cruciform stage with the audience all around save for the ends of the cross which are used for entrances and exits and one for the orchestra. The costumes are a colorful mix of long frocks, tight suits, masks, blonde wigs, high necklines and lots of make-up, and cleverly gives the feeling of Italian Baroque.

There are no weak links in the cast of very fine singers who lightly ornament the repeats in their da capo arias.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8fc163c0) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fadf708) out of 5 stars Beautiful music, beautiful singing, a revelation 19 Mar. 2013
By Keris Nine - Published on Amazon.com
Despite it having one of the most convoluted plots of any opera, Pietro Metastasio's L'Olimpiade was one of the most popular texts for Baroque composers. Originally set to music by Antonio Caldara in 1733, it was most notably followed by Vivaldi's version in 1734 and Pergolesi's in 1735, but the libretto has also been set around 60 times by composers such as Hasse, Galuppi, Jommelli, Cimarosa and Piccinni. Thanks to the Fondazione Pergolesi-Spontini's initiative to revive and release recorded performances of all the composer's operas in new critical editions, we finally have the opportunity to see Pergolesi's version of this immense work and it is something of a revelation. Not only is it one of Pergolesi's most beautiful works with perhaps the finest musical and singing performances we've seen yet from Jesi, but it also turns out to be one of the best settings of L'Olimpiade that exists.

All of Pergolesi's works released on Blu-ray so far have been given very strong productions with superb performances on period instruments by the very finest experts in this genre, but L'Olimpiade surpasses them all. To a large extent that's down to Pergolesi's distinctive and sparklingly expressive account of the work, where even the most tragic of circumstances and bitterness of sentiments have an achingly beautiful melancholic quality, but it's brought out exceptionally well by conductor Allesandro de Marchi and the musicians of the Academia Montis Regalis. The crystalline clarity and warmth of expression, with even the continuo sounding beautifully melodic, comes across particularly well in the HD sound recording here.

More than anything else however it's the singing that really conveys the true sentiments and strengths of this particular work. Jesi's preference for choosing female sopranos instead of male countertenors is certainly justified by the quality of the performances here of Sofia Soloviy as Megacles and Jennifer Rivera as Lycida. Soloviy in particular is just astonishing as Megacles, a role that not only has challenging tessitura and ornamentation but it is also particularly demanding and crucial for the expression and characterisation of the human sentiments that lie at the heart of the work. Sofia Soloviy gives a truly revelatory performance here in her singing of some of Pergolesi's most ravishingly beautiful and sophisticated music. Jesi's strength in all the previous DVD/Blu-ray releases however has been in the consistently high quality of young singers in all the roles, and L'Olimpiade is no exception. All up-and-coming talents, young, fresh and free of mannerisms, every member of the cast demonstrate total commitment to the roles, singing with a wonderful clarity of tone and diction.

The staging of the work at the Teatro Valeria Moriconi in Jesi is unusual in that it's performed in the round, on a very small centre stage that has platforms leading to it in the shape of a cross. There's evidently little room then for decorative props or backdrops, so it's to the credit of Italo Nunziata's direction and the intensity that is drawn from the performances that you never feel less than totally involved in the drama. Masked figures and dancers manoeuvre characters around this small space, holding up mirrors and barred walls, providing all that is needed to keep the dramatic expression meaningful and without ever getting into heavy symbolism. What little opening up there is, using balconies for scenes and even for extending out the orchestra, is also most effective and scenically impressive.

The quality of the Blu-ray release is also simply amazing. The High Resolution image and the sound mixing are breathtaking good, the audio tracks in particular revealing all the qualities of Pergolesi's musical score and the precision playing of the orchestra. It's also very well filmed by Tiziano Mancini. This is a challenging production to film, on an unconventional stage in a small theatre with the audience visible all around. The audience can be a bit distracting, waving fans and reading programmes throughout the whole performance, but the actual performance is well captured and comes across with real dramatic intensity. We are fortunate to have this magnificent performance recorded and made more widely available, as this brilliant and rare work from one of the greatest composers of the Baroque age really deserves to reach a much larger audience.

The Blu-ray disc from Arthaus Musik is region-free, the audio tracks are the usual PCM Stereo and DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 with subtitles in Italian, English, German, French, Spanish and Korean. The only extra features on the disc are trailers for the other Arthaus Pergolesi titles. The booklet contains an essay on the work which only has a brief outline of the plotline, but I'm sure a full synopsis for this famous Metastasio libretto can be found on-line. Pergolesi's setting and the performance here however is so good that it shouldn't be too difficult to follow.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c5abca8) out of 5 stars A True Gem.......the Composer's Best 20 April 2013
By Dr. John W. Rippon - Published on Amazon.com
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It is not often that I am in general agreement with my colleague critic Keris Nine, but in our assessment of Pergolesi's L'Olimpiade I am fully sympathetic to her analysis. L'Olimpiade is by far the true gem of a masterpiece of his four opera seria. Each one shows that his inherent genius had to overcome some awkwardness or mannerism of the opera seria style. And each one shows the progress to the mastery of his own talent. It should be noted that all were composed under very difficult situations, often in great haste,and none were immediately deemed successes. The three preceding opera seria: Salustia, Il Prigioniero Superbo and Adriano in Sirio are all now available in excellent recent performances (sponsored by the Pergolesi/Spontini Foundation)with period instruments and very accomplished singers and performers. The present work is an outstanding composition and certainly represents the high point of the Italian Baroque Style. The melodic writing uses delicate tone colors, smooth elegant expressive lines without the virtuosity displays of earlier works. The pathos in Salustia is here replaced by restained sentimentality and the aria formerly used to summarize a scene now can actually be the climax of the action. I must say that the duo of Megacle and Aristea "Ne giorni tuoi felici" that closes act 1 is one of the most ravishingly beautiful pieces of music that I've heard in a long time. Each and every singer in the cast are young and extremely talented and perform as close to perfection as is humanly possible; they sing and act. I cannot extol the virtues of the performers enough.
For several years I've had a very pleasant recording of the L'Olimpiade of Baldassare Galuppi. It is a pleasant and charmingly beautiful setting of the same libretto written some fourteen years later than the Pergolesi. In it I find one of Pergolesi best conceived arias for Megacle "Se cerca,se dice: l'amico dov'e" in act 2 pretty much intact.
Pergolesi had only a limited success in his lifetime. His four opera seria were initially failures. In fact Adirano in Siria was considered so bad the the authorities had Pergolesi's name removed from the roster of accepted composers for this Naples theatre. However the very last piece written before death (tuberculosis) the Stabet Mater won some noteriety and is still revered. L'Olimpiade enjoyed some later popularity and was staged many places in Europe including twice in London directed by Handel. However his name was kept alive by his comedy La Serva Padrona which was on the roster of most traveling comedy troups throughout Europe and even in America. I saw it at the old Met with Roberta Peters. The success of this comedy was so great that it evoked in Paris the "Querelle des Bouffons" a pamphlet war about which was the better comedy Italian or French.
The revival of interest in "all things Baroque" has now shined a light on all the works of this forgotten genius of that time.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b0bc894) out of 5 stars Two second lead sopranos shine in a ladies' night. 19 Jan. 2015
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
My review will be short – this is a live video released in 2013, of the same work that was released in 2011 on CD, also conducted by Alessandro di Marchi under Harmonica Mundi.
Di Marchi employed an entirely different cast from the CD recording.
I totally agree with the earlier review that the real find of this performance lies in the two sopranos singing Megacle and Argene.
Sophia Soloviy was previously unknown to me, though I believe in the Eastern bloc she must have already made a good name for herself judging from her ravishingly beautiful singing as Megacle. I feel that the casting of Soloviy as this suffering secondary hero is shrewd indeed, just as in Vinci’s ‘Artaserse’, the secondary hero got the main crop of drama and fireworks of the score, Megacle in Pergolesi’s late masterpiece also snatched the score’s trump card. Soloviy’s scene and aria "Se cerca, se dice" in Act 2 is an exemplary piece of performance in its striking expressivity and vocal beauty. She sings in a good range, fully integrated, with crystal enunciation and sheer perfect intonation.
Cuban soprano Yetzebel Arias Fernández is another young singer that I am unfamiliar with hitherto, but finds great interest after viewing this performance. Her smoky timbre with an expansive scope for dramatic expression is a real tour de force in repertoire ranging from baroque to bel canto and early Verdian works. Her spitfire-like accurate fiorature is simply jaw dropping in its dramatic force and shattering musical effect.
In the minor roles, the great Raul Gimenez as the King and Milena Storti as his courtier Alcandro both offer great performances.
Three young singers fed the bills of the primary hero and heroine Lycidas and Articea, as well as Aminta. I find mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera to be struggling a bit vocally with her role in her light weight timbre, while light lyrical coloratura Petrova is a bit on the bland side dramatically. The young tenor singing Aminta has a pleasant light lyrical tenor, but clearly not as seasoned and expressive as the great Gimenez yet.
It is a pleasant reversion to ladies singing trouser roles after hearing and seeing a wide array of countertenors.
A perfect foil to Vinci's "Artaserse" DVD indeed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90e2093c) out of 5 stars It's the ladies' turn: lead by the great Raul Gimenez, in Pergolesi's greatest dramatic output. 19 Jan. 2015
By A. F. S. Mui - Published on Amazon.com
Pergolesi’s 1736 death at the age of barely 26 was one of the musical theatre’s greatest ever losses. L’olimpiade (1735) resoundingly demonstrates in its later Acts that he had already become an Italian opera seria innovator that could have influenced the entire course of the 18th-century opera.
Pergolesi’s posthumous fame and were largely sustained by his opera buffa one-acters, notably La serva padrona, and by his sacred work Stabat Mater. Thanks to Alessandro de Marchi and his superb Piedmont period-instrument orchestra Accademia Montis Regalis, one quickly appreciates the composer’s wider dramatic range and command of an Italianate gift for lyrical characterization.
In setting a Metastasio libretto used by some sixty other composers, Pergolesi heightened the intensity of a drama of hidden identities, torn loyalties and conflicted emotions in his wonderful score.
The venue of this performance in 2011 was the 200-seat Teatro Valeria Moriconi, a made-over twelfth-century church. A cross-shaped platform stage divides the seating area into quadrants with seats facing the centre. The orchestra is seated beyond the tip of the cross; galleries above the other three sides also are used, and singers sometimes move from one level to the other via unseen stairs during ritornellos.
The performance seems relatively bland in Act 1, likely the fault of Italo Nunziata’s in-the-round production, which persistently confuses the action by dressing the principals alike and inserting a troupe of masked figurants. However, the power of the work takes firm hold from Act 2 onwards. The predominantly youthful cast, headed in the principal leads by the Russian soprano Lyubov Petrova as Aristea and American mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera as Licida, are both sterling members. There are, however, two even more jaw-dropping sopranos in the Ukrainian Sophia Soloviy as the second lead Megacle and Cuban soprano Yetzebel Arias Fernández as second lady Argene, who engaged in an even more exciting vocal tournament with the leading ‘couple’. These four wonderful ladies are joined by two marvelous veterans, the wonderfully rich-toned Italian contralto Milena Storti and Argentinian tenore di grazie Raul Gimenez, already well into his sixties at the time of this performance and singing with utter grace and dramatic alertness. Young tenor Antonio Lozano is also promising in this lyrical tenor fach.
Bubbling tempi sweep through a story of love’s swinging consequences. What evidently fired Pergolesi’s imagination in this libretto is its intermingling of heroism with humanism. To win the prize of Aristea’s hand in an Olympic competition, Licida engages his best friend Megacle, a prize athlete, to impersonate him. Megacle was formerly betrothed to Aristea, but dares not tell Licida – whose own earlier lover Argene, thought dead, lives in disguise as a shepherdess at Aristea’s court, and must watch Licida throw himself at Aristea. Pergolesi’s unique style – lilting melodies, throbbing pulses, suspensions – makes his music at once passionate and, as needed, tongue-in-cheek. We feel the lovers’ pain, joy and despair; we also hear Pergolesi gently mocking their gullibility.
The score’s greatest challenge lies in telling a story through persistently repeated motifs, sections and rhythmic cells. Thanks to de Marchi’s deft contouring, this drama emerges naturally. With some minor exceptions, his cast cunningly extracts the characters implied in the score. Volatility lurks just beneath the surface of Aristea, erupting in white-hot coloratura. The bravura of Licida shades into vulnerability through Jennifer Rivera’s occasional jagged delivery. Both singers have light and whitish timbre well served by the use of body microphones in a small venue. Long stretches of secco recitative prevail, but hardly distracts from the musical drama.
The real find of this DVD, however, lies in the two secondary hero and heroine, though not having any less share in the score to display their marvelous artistry – the Megacle of Sophia Soloviy, a real successor to the greatest sopranos of the previous century with a highly flexible and full timbre, displaying totally stylish singing and terrific expressivity in the portrayal of this character’s conflict, despair and pathos. Megacle’s Act 2 Scene as well as the Act 3 aria by Soloviy are both the best baroque performance seen in the past 15 years.
Of equal artistic strength is the Cuban soprano Yetzebel Arias Fernández, who upstages the very fine but rather light weight Russian Lyubov Petrova in almost every turn both in musicality and dramatic expressiveness. Fernández’s slightly darker and fuller timbre brings out the grudge and turmoil of Argene to great effect.
Shining equally brightly with these two young ladies are the veterans: tenor Raul Gimenez, the Prince Ramiro opposite Cecilia Bartoli in the Houston La Cenerentola and already in his sixties in this performance, and the Italian rich-toned contralto Milena Storti. Gimenez’s emotionally charged and stylish deliverance in Act 3 was however not equally matched by de Marchi and his band.
All in all, a most exciting and musically rewarding performance that should not be missed under any circumstances.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8af968ac) out of 5 stars Classic Greek tragedy aptly captured bvy composer and producer alike 1 Dec. 2014
By M. Galishoff - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is a classic Greek tragedy captured wonderfully by the composer. The minimalist staging is very appropriate for the genre as it is an intimate opera and a Greek drama needs no grand setting. I love the way the audience surrounds the stage which consists of a small oval with four "ramps." The singing and acting is wonderful and the costumes capture the classic Greek "muse" with a modern touch. I am looking forward to exploring more from this composer
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