This is a reissue of the 1996 recording and things have moved on since. Mainly that there are now amazing countertenors who quite rightly want to record the most virtuosic music available. However this does result in recordings of operas that could be said to lack a little grace. In many ways this reminds me of the ENO recording of Handel's Julius Caesar with Janet Baker. Both are fundamentally the same plot and both have sopranos singing the role of Caesar. Also probably more importantly both give the most beautiful music to the female role of Cleopatra and Cornelia. Indeed while there are some great virtuoso moments (Voglio strage in act 3is certainly one) the majority of arias are much less watching a squirrel jump from tree to tree and much more like watching a swan gliding around. As someone else has mentioned there is certainly a lot in this opera that brings to mind Gluck; especially in the simplicity of the vocal line, but also in the interest in the psychology of the characters. This is still an opera seria so don't expect too much, but it's better than many. This is really worth having in a collection, even if it's not the most modern recording with the voices of the moment. It's a good cast supported by a good orchestra playing a rather lovely, graceful, rare opera.
The story is the same as that of Handel's opera of the same name. The selection of voices and voice timbres and range is superb. Janet Williams as Cleopatra is stunning, as is Robert Gambill as Tolomeo and Jeffrey Francis as Lentulo. Lynne Dawson sings beautifully though lacking a bit of dramatic clout. Iris Vermillion whose voice is a little rough compensates and gives a spectular performance with her dramatic authority in the role of Cesare. The orchestral playing and conducting are splendid especially the harpsichord playing which is spectacular. This is one of the all time best opera recordings and will become one of your favorites if you love baroque opera.
Excellent service from the vendor, even though the product was delayed in shipping due to the Christmas season. The vendor really cared, although it was not his responsibility. The CD itself is marvelous.