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Vinci: Artaserse (DVD) [2014] [NTSC]

4.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Philippe Jaroussky, Franco Fagioli, Max Emanuel Cencic, Valer Barna-Sabadus, Diego Fasolis
  • Directors: Silviu Purcarete
  • Writers: Leonardo Vinci
  • Format: Classical, Colour, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Erato
  • DVD Release Date: 10 Mar. 2014
  • Run Time: 201 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00HZ3L25M
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,090 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Diego Fasolis conducts the Concerto Köln ensemble in this production of Leonardo Vinci's opera, recorded live at the Opéra National De Lorraine in 2012. Performers include Philippe Jaroussky, Franco Fagioli and Yuriy Mynenko.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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There are good reasons why you probably don't often come across productions of Leonardo Vinci's Artaserse. Written in 1730, there are the usual musical and staging questions to resolve in how to present opera from this period , but this one is even more rarely performed since it requires no less than five countertenors to sing the extravagantly arranged castrato roles of the work. And not just any five countertenors , but you really need five of the best in the world to be able to do any kind of justice to this particular work.

The arias and ariosos are not long-winded or overly ornamented, but they are demanding nonetheless and really require virtuoso control. Each role moreover clearly has been composed for a specific type of countertenor voice. It can be difficult to distinguish who is who with all the outlandish costume changes, wigs and face-paint - to say nothing of the difficulty of determining role gender - but every single countertenor voice here has their own unique sound and character, and each are outstanding within the role they play. Arbace has arguably the most traumatic dilemma, consumed with guilt over the death of Serse and unjustly accused of murder himself, Franco Fagioli is outstanding in how he plays out this inner turmoil. It's Philippe Jaroussky as Artaserse however who has to balance the sense of friendship and fairness in dealing out justice with the shock of his father's violent death, knowing that much lies in the balance.

The romantic complications of Semira and her conflicted sentiments would seem less important, but Valer Barna-Sabadus' astonishing delivery will convince you otherwise.
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Here is a 'new' great Baroque opera, not at all like Handel or Vivaldi - Leonardo Vinci has entirely his own voice. We are treated to a performance which has not been altered in 'expert' hands to suit modern tastes. The sets and costumes are exceptionally intelligent, representing musical and scenic unity. The setting is simple, a platform, painted backdrops and five dressing-room mirrors at the side of the stage. The camera catches both the front-stage drama as well as the back-stage activities. The costumes are those of 18th-century nobility, blonde wigs and lots of 'white-face' make-up, so the intention is clearly to give a semblance of the opera in its time.

The story is set in Ancient Persia. The prefect of the Royal Guard, Artabano, desiring power, stabs king Serse to death and attempts to put the blame on Serse's son Dario, who is quickly executed by order of Serse's eldest son and successor Artaserse. However, his daughter Semira declares that Dario is not the murderer, so Artabano gives the bloody murder weapon to his son Arbace swearing him to secrecy. Arbace is discovered and exposed as the murderer to the chock of his friend Artaserse and Mandane, his fiancée and Artaserse's sister. Arbace nobly keeps his oath even to the moment of his execution when his father relents and confesses, yet Arbace forgives him and begs that his life be spared to which Artaserse agrees.

It's an all-male cast opera. Countertenors are cast in shirt roles to play the female characters in the opera. The entire cast produces exceptionally fine singing. Philippe Jaroussky's clear, pure voice is consistently focused and well supported and every line gloriously phrased.
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This little-known (to me) opera was a revelation, both in terms of the quality of the music and the performances which, with the possible exception of the one tenor role (all the women are played by men) was exceptional. ...I would particularly single out the aria that closes act one. I also loved the costumes and the staging that perfectly capture the spirit of the piece.
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Nowadays HIP baroque operas take on new height after new height.
This French production featuring in title role French counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky, with Max Emanuel Cencic in 'skirt role' as Artaserse's sister, new CT stars Valer Barna-Sabadus and Franco Fagioli are a 'must see' item, having previously been issued in CD format to great acclaim.
I will focus on the visual aspect of this performance since this is a DVD release.
The sets and costumes are fabulous to begin with, they are a mixture of rococo and baroque, and the protagonists take on the style well.
The most eye-catching performances come from the pair of Fagioli's Arbace and Cencic's Mandane.
The other skirt role Semira is undertaken by soprano CT Barna-Sabadus, another young up-coming star. He, however, is slightly taller and hence not as 'faminine' in appearance as Cencic.
So actually this Artaserse production has 'two sets' of CT stars - the reigning Jaroussky/Cencic pair and the up-coming Fagioli/Barna-Sabadus pair. Each pair as as good as the other, so this is first rate singing contest non-stop, but the pair of Arbace/Mandane really has more drama, so it is more eye/ear catching.
The lone tenor did a passable but not illustrious job as Arbace's father, the murderer of Artaserse's father (Serse).
The Concerto Köln, one of the longer-serving period bands, benefited from Diego Fasolis' almost dance-like approach to conducting (partly) from the harpsichord.
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