Vivaldi: Teuzzone Box set
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Personnel: Le Concert des Nations, Jordi Savall (conductor) Soloists: Paolo Lopez (male soprano), Raffaella Milanesi (soprano), Delphine Galou (contralto), Furio Zanasi (baritone), Roberta Mameli (soprano), Antonio Giovannini (countertenor), Makoto Sakurada (tenor)
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The argument concerns the dying Chinese emperor Troncone, confirming his son Teuzzone as heir, only for the emperor's scheming young widow Zidania to forge a will to her own benefit with the assistance of her suitors, Cino the minister and Sivenio the general, unaware of her desire to also marry the desirable Teuzzone, much to the consternation of Teuzzone's fiancée the Tatar princess Zelinda. All turns out well in the end of course, with the assistance of Tatar prince Argonte, various persons either magnanimously pardoned or imprisoned as appropriate.
Jordi Savall's previous Vivaldi opera recording released as part of the Naive/Opus111 series, Farnace, has been panned for supplanting the lead role originally written for alto with a baritone. This time at least he doesn't make such a crass and bungling mistake but I don't feel he has top class performers at his disposal here. The lead character of Teuzzone, originally cast as a trouser role for a soprano, is taken by male soprano Paolo Lopez, who has potential but whose delivery can sometimes be rather tremulous, wavering and gasping.
Mezzo Rafaella Milanesi playing the devious Zidania is somewhat flat and doesn't sparkle on the whole. Contralto Delphine Galou (Zelinda) is fine enough, but these two characters don't feel right together somehow when Zidania has been changed from the original alto to mezzo. Soprano Roberta Mameli (Cino) shows some promise at times but is a bit variable.
Baritone Furio Zanasi as the unredeemed general Sivenio is as dependable as always. Countertenor Antonio Giovanni (Egaro, captain of the guard) is subdued, and too breathy. Tenor Makoto Sakurada is solid enough in the literally short-lived role of emperor Troncone, doubling up as the Tatar Prince Argonte towards the end.
Overall the cast does not feel right up to the expected standard of this series, and Savall's conducting is somewhat languorous and leaden and seems unable to give this composition any lift and bring it to life. It's OK, and I feel I can't say much more than that. It looks like we'll just have to wait to get a decent recording of this opera.
The three discs come in a double jewel case, packaged along with separate booklet in a cardboard sleeve. The booklet provides notes & synopsis (English/French/Italian/German) plus libretto with English & French translations.
Maybe in the future I'll revise my opinion, but at this point in time, it's a thumbs up! for this version.
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