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on 24 October 2001
One of the ambitious projects Opus111 has planned, Juditha triumphans is beautifully organised masterpiece. Compared to the pervious versions of this oratorio, Alessandro De Marchi conducts fantastically. Especially, the Czech soprano, Magdalena Kozena's performance is indeed heart-rendingly soft singing. The aria, Quoto magis generosa, is brilliantly done. I can confidently say that it is the best piece of work amongst many versions of Juditha triumphans
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"Juditha triumphans devicta Holofernis barbarie", to give it its full name, commands attention as being the sole surviving example of oratorio written by Vivaldi, of the four he is known to have written. Deriving from the Book of Judith in the Apocrypha, it was composed in 1716 whilst he was violin teacher and acting choirmaster at the famed Ospedale della Pietà school in Venice for orphaned girls, and thus scored for female voices only. The work, like the vast majority of Vivaldi's output other than his concertos, lay forgotten for nearly two centuries after his death until a huge cache of his work was rediscovered in the late 1920s.

It's an excellent cast all round in this recording, brimming with top notch singing. Mezzo Magdalena Kozená taking the heroine's role of Judith is not normally associated with this kind of repertoire it seems (my own musical tastes go no later than Baroque and I have never heard her before) but is a commendable choice. Similarly the baddie of the piece, the Assyrian general Holophernes, is sung by an artist new to me, mezzo Maria José Trullu. More familiar to me are the truly fabulous mezzo Maria Comparato (catch her in the outstanding recording also in this series of Vivaldi's Orlando finto pazzo) as Holophernes' underling Vagaus, and soprano Anke Herrman (see also Vivaldi: Motetti) as Judith's aide Abra. Last but not least, mezzo Tiziana Carraro keeps up the standard as the high priest Ozias.

The three discs come in a double jewel case with separate booklet, together in cardboard sleeve. The booklet gives substantial notes (in English, French, Italian & German) on Vivaldi's sacred music in general as well as this oratorio in particular, notes on the choices made for this recording including reconstructions, synopsis and full Latin libretto with translations (English, Italian & French).
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on 14 May 2009
This is really an exceptional issue. I'm not very much interested in Vivaldi's operas (or oratorio) in complete form cause of their way-too-long recitatives. Usually a completist, but in this case highlight-discs are my thing. And there is no better highlight release than this, be it Vivaldi or any other composer!
This is sometimes called an opera in all but a name but I strongly disagree. The music is much more deep and solemn than in Vivaldi's operas. Of course the Italian joy is evident here too. This is really one of the best examples of Italian oratorio, opinion based just on this highlight-disc.
Magdalena Kozena has a lion's share of the arias here and she does them perfectly. Other singers are very good also as is the ensemble. This could make me wanna hear the whole work, but then I don't think it just couldn't be better than this magnificent issue.
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on 27 August 2014
This is a good edition of Vivaldi Juditha triumphans but not a great one.

The pros:
-The music itself is “Vivaldi First Class”
-The performances are above average
-The recording includes two pieces of an hypothetical opening symphonia (taken from another Vivaldi’s work) and two versions–placed in the end of the recording- of equal arias.
-The edition comes with a highly detailed booklet.

The cons:
-The soloists employ a moderate amount of variations and some cadenzas. The rationale is explained in the aferomentioned booklet but nevertheless I find it to be a bad idea. Whoever has listened to an “ordinary” performance of “Juditha” understands that every adition or alteration to the score cannot add anything (just the oposite) to the brilliant inspiration of this composer.
-The tempi are ocasionally too slow or fast. I know that tempi are subjective but some times I have found them a bit to the “extreme” side.
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on 23 February 2009
Juditha Triumphans (Acad Montis Reg, Kozeba, De Marchi)
It's maybe the best recording of one survived Vivaldi oratorio of four written. Great music, great recording. Highly recommended.
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on 31 August 2009
Aside lovely Ms Kozena, the true protagonist of this recording is the Acadamia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia's choir. And the brass. This is a loud, vivacious music to be enjoyed and listened to at reasonable distance from the speakers. The music has a brass strength of Hendel's Water Music or Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and the similar mixture of pathos and pure fun. Once again this recording proves that Vivaldi is unjustifiably recognized, above all, as an instrumental composer while his broad and magnificent dramas per musica remain largely unknown. This cat really blows.
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on 16 December 2007
Enter this emblematic Catholic Biblical oratorio showing one of the most discussed and even rejected female character in the Old Testament, the famous and infamous Judith. You know at once you are in Vivaldi with the strings, oboes, clarinets and pipes.

The music sounds kind of military with percussions, trumpets and timpani but also mundane with the mandolin and the strings, to the point of being even nostalgic and the violins are the voice of this change in tone. But the first surprise is to hear a soprano in the role of Holophernes instead of a male voice. Is Italy that deprived of altos?

And it is redoubled with Holophernes' servant, Bagoas, a soprano too. The world of men, warriors, heroes reduced to women when castratos were meant, the voice of heroes. Then Judith appears, the enemy, the Israelis Holophernes is supposed to punish along with her rebellious tribes, ordered by Nabuchednezzar and she is the third soprano. Something's missing. Something is incorrect.

We miss the essential symbolism Vivaldi must have intended, the use of sexual attraction to defeat the victor in one sword blow and this from the only person that can attract Holophernes' sexual lust, a woman, provided Holophernes is a man, a warrior, a hero, a general. And Bagaos's Aria in the first act, "Quamvis ferro", cannot render the opposition of the top and the bottom of an alto's range in high drives and high jumps from the one to the other.

Same thing with Holophernes is opposed to Judith who is a soprano and works on the top of her vocal range. I would love to have Jazoussky and Expert in these two roles of Bagoas and Holophernes. To understand the problem we must know the argument. The Israelis had refused to serve Nabuchednezzar in one of his wars. After his victory he sends his general Holophernes to punish all these tribes.

The Jewish elders are ready to submit to all the punishments he wants, including military defeat and slavery without even fighting. That's when Judith, a widow, decides to deceive Holophernes and redress the elders. She goes and submits to Holophernes exposing the cowardice and greedy egotism of the Israelis.

Then she manages to seduce him, get him drunk and behead him with his own sword. She is the new David who killed Goliath with a stone and then beheaded him with Goliath's own sword. Judith just replaced the stone with wine and the sling with her sex.

On the following day the Israelis repulse the Babylonian army. Not for long though since they will be enslaved by Nabuchednezzar, the Temple destroyed and looted, but that leads to Daniel. The opposition between two altos and two sopranos must embody the opposition between men and women, warriors and civilians, heroes and homemakers, Babylonians and Jews, and the whole Babylonian Persian civilization as opposed to the Jewish Semitic tradition. I remember a production by Malgoire in which he dressed Judith in purple and the Babylonians in yellow and red.

I had a discussion with him on the justifiable use of historically correct symbolism if it gets interfered with by more modern symbolisms, yellow the symbol of Jews in our consciousness and red the color of the socialist president then. The first act concludes with a chorus singing the glory of Judith at this point of the story when she is on the verge of conquering Holophernes, using the word "triumphando" as if her victory was going to be a military, quasi Roman triumph of a victorious general coming back to Rome.

The second act starts with a mezzo soprano in the role of Ozias, the Jewish prophet, priest who detains, retains and proclaims the knowledge of history, fate, God in our everyday life. How can the voice of God be a woman's, even a mezzo soprano's? In pure Jewish tradition Ozias has to be a male voice. He is the divine equivalent in the Temple of the Jews to Holophernes in Nabuchednezzar's army.

The voice of the heart, soul, faith of the Israelis, the Jews. This opposition of a man against two women, Judith and her servant, is the visualization of that between Judith and the Jewish elders, courage and hypocritical cowardice. The second act brings the seducing of Holphernes by twisted-tongued Judith. Holophernes ends up drunk. Judith organizes the vigil and discovers the sword.

At this moment she takes off and kills him from a dark tempestuous sky of lightning, thunder and storm and she picks the head and runs away with her servant Abra. The music gallops away with Abra's Aria "Qui fulgida per se". The furor of Bagoas when he discovers the crime is unbearable in many ways, in violence and exploding frustration. ,How we regret at this moment we are having a soprano. Judith can finally return to the Israelis and her arrival is announced, described and introduced into Berthulia by Ozias.

Judith will never come on the stage again to deliver Holoohernes's bloody head. Ozias can now conclude his tale with a praise of Venice in the name of a certain Vivaldi. The final chorus is a martial song of victory. Beyond the celebration of Venice as the Queen of the Sea, the opera is a sure sign of the important movement at work in Europe at the time, a beginning that will eventually lead to the liberation of women.

Vivaldi like others who celebrated or will celebrate women, among others Magdalena at the feet of the Christ, chose to celebrate a rare Biblical heroin who saves with her sex appeal and courage the independence of Israel in front of her domineering neighbors of Babylon. Women arise and fight for God and humanity to discard and push away all dangers from enemies.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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on 21 March 2014
I am 100% content with product, because it is exactly what is described and what I ordered. Nice piece to collection for lovers of Vivaldi's music.

5 stars rating for delivery, package and of course item <3
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on 13 May 2015
very good
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on 9 December 2013
Vivaldi is one of my favourite composers, and it is my intention to obtain the full works of Vivaldi as his music puts me completely at ease with myself.
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