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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 2 September 2013
This is probably the best box set of operas ever published.
I am referring to the box set itself, not the operas.

My first impression was that the box is bigger than it looks on Amazon's page.
It opens beautifully, unfolding almost like the curtains of a theatre. Each opera has its
own case. The cases are just excellent. You won't get any of those dreadful cardboard sleeves here.

I received, together with HM's box set, the box set "Vladimir Horowitz live at Carnegie Hall", by Sony.
HM's box set has 43 discs ( including the cdrom ) and Sony's set has 42 discs. So, the difference in number of discs is irrelevant but
Horowitz's box is one third smaller than this box set, the reason being the far better quality of the encasing of cds in the Opera box set.

The quality of images and sound of the dvds is very good. Better than that only if the opera was on blu ray discs.

There is a cdrom with all lyrics for the songs, in its original language and translated to English. The cdrom is compatible with windows and macs.

There are four booklets for each one of the countries represented in this collection. They have short essays and a track listing.
They are not "detailed" as advertised but the main thing is that, this time, you will have a box set of operas that does have the lyrics included.
This gorgeous box set is not one of those DIY sets of cds that are getting so common now: You buy a set of cds with songs and then it is up to you to find the texts for the songs.

The box is so beautiful that one might feel like looking at it all the time.

The sound of the cds is excellent. The whole thing is a spectacle. It really is.

Order this box set whilst you still can.
HM's box sets tend to disappear from the market in a year or less.

This review is just a first impression, a way to tell other customers that this box set is more than worth having. Just be aware of the mess made by HM
with the names of the supplementary cds.

PS It is written on the box :"... No fewer than 17 complete operas (including two on DVD) and two supplementary CDs (the dawn of opera, Overtures for the Hamburg Opera) provide the most comprehensive..."

There is no cd called "The Dawn of Opera" so I first thought that my box was missing a cd and asked for a replacement.
The replacement was exactly like the first box. I realised, after the second box and after reading the other review that there is no missing cd.
What happened is that HM made a mess with the name of the first supplementary cd.

HM should clear this mess. They say that the box contains a cd called "The Dawn of Opera" but what you find in the box is a cd called "Comedie..."

Venus and Adonis
Rosemary Joshua (Venus), Gerald Finley (Adonis), Robin Blaze (Cupid), Maria Cristina Kiehr (Shepherdess), Christopher Josey (Shepherds/Huntsman)
Clare College Chapel Choir, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, William Christie

Monique Zanetti (Ilione), Bernard Deletre (Idomenee), Sandrine Piau (Electre), Jean-Paul Fouchecourt (Idamante), Marie Boyer (Venus), Jerome Correas (Eole/Neptune/La Jalousie/Nemesis),Richard Dugay (Arcas), Mary Saint-Palais (Une Cretoise), Anne Pichard (Premiere Bergere), Anne Mopin (Une Troyenne/Deuxieme Bergere), Jean-Claude Sarragosse (Arbas/Protee)
Les Arts Florissants, William Christie

La Calisto
Marcello Lippi (Giove), Simon Keenlyside (Mercurio), Maria Bayo (Calisto), Graham Pushee (Endimione), Alessandro Mantovani (Diana), Gilles Ragon (Linfea), Dominique Visse (Il Satirino/Furia), Barry Banks (Pane), David Pittsinger (Silvano), Sonia Theodoridou (Giunone), Judith Vindevogel (Furia)
Concerto Vocale, René Jacobs

Charpentier, M-A:
Lorraine Hunt (Médée), Mark Padmore (Jason), Bernard Deletré (Créon), Monique Zanetti (Créuse) & Jean-Marc Salzmann (Oronte)
Les Arts Florissants, William Christie
Le Malade imaginaire
Monique Zanetti, Noemi Rime, Claire Brua, Dominique Visse, Howard Crook, Jean-Francois Gardell

Les Arts Florissants, William Christie
Overture No. 4
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin

Graun, C H:
Cleopatra & Cesare
Janet Williams (Cleopatra), Iris Vermillion (Cesare), Lynne Dawson (Cornelia), Robert Gambill (Tolomeo), Ralf Popken (Arsace), Jeffrey Francis (Lentulo), Klaus Hager (Achilla), Elisabeth Scholl (Cneo), Maria Cristina Kiehr (Sesto)
RIAS Kammerchor, Concerto Köln, René Jacobs

Vivica Genaux (Rinaldo), Inga Kalna (Armida/Second Siren), Miah Persson (Almirena/First Siren), Christophe Dumaux (Eustazio), James Rutherford (Argante), Lawrence Zazzo (Goffredo), Dominique Visse (A Christian Magician)
Freiburger Barockorchester, René Jacobs

Jeffrey Gall (Flavio), Derek Lee Ragin (Guido), Lena Lootens (Emilia), Bernada Fink (Teodata), Christina Högman (Vitige), Gian Paolo Fagotto (Ugone), Ulrich Messthaler (Lotario)
Ensemble 415, René Jacobs

Giulio Cesare in Egitto
(two DVDs)
Andreas Scholl (Giulio Cesare), Inger Dam-Jensen (Cleopatra), Randi Steene (Cornelia), Tuva Semmingsen (Sesto), Christopher Robson (Tolomeo), Palle Knudsen (Achilla) & James Huw Jeffries (Nireno)
Concerto Copenhagen, Lars Ulrik Mortensen
Almira Suite
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin

Dorothea Roschmann (Elmira), Werner Gura (Atis), Roman Trekel (Croesus), Klaus Hager (Orsanes), Johannes Mannov (Cyrus), Markus Schafer (Eliates), Salome Haller (Clerida), Kwangchul Youn (Solon), Graham Pushee (Halimacus), Brigitte Eisenfeld (Trigesta), Kurt Azesberger (Elcius), Johanna Stojkovic (Nerillus), Jorg Gottschick (Hauptmann)
RIAS Kammerchor, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Solistes du Knabenchor Hannover, René Jacobs
Le Ridicule Prince Jodelet Sinfonia
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin

Guy de Mey, Guillemette Laurens, Agnès Mellon, Jean-François Gardeil, Jacques Bona, Bernard Deletré, Isabelle Desrochers, Jean-Paul Fouchécourt,Véronique Gens, Michel Laplénie, Stephan Maciejewski, Gilles Ragon, Noémi Rime, Françoise Semellaz, Arlette Steyer & Monique Zanetti
Les Arts Florissants, William Christie


Simon Keenlyside (Orfeo), Juanita Lascarro (Euridice, la Musica, Eco), Graciela Oddone (la Messaggiera), Martina Dike (Proserpina), Stephen Wallace (la Speranza, Pastore), Tomas Tòmasson (Plutone), Paul Gérimon, Caronte (Pastore), Mauro Utzeri (Apollo), Anne Cambier (Ninfa), Yann Beuron, John Bowen, René Linnenbank (Pastori, Spiriti
Concerto Vocale, Collegium Vocale Gent, Trisha Brown Company, René Jacobs

L'incoronazione di Poppea
Danielle Borst (Poppea), Guillemette Laurens (Nerone), Axel Köhler (Ottone), Jennifer Larmore (Ottavia), Michael Schopper (Seneca), Lena Lootens (Drusilla), Dominique Visse (Nutrice), Christoph Homberger (Arnalta), Maria-Cristina Kiehr (Damigella/Virtù)
Concerto Vocale, René Jacobs
Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda
Concerto Vocale, René Jacobs

Dido and Aeneas
Lynne Dawson (Dido), Rosemary Joshua (Belinda), Susan Bickley (Sorceress), Gerald Finley (Aeneas), Dominique Visse (First Witch), Stephen Wallace (Second Witch), Maria Cristina Kiehr (Second Woman), Robin Blaze (Spirit)
Clare College Chapel Choir, Members of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, René Jacobs

Les Indes Galantes
Claron McFadden (Hebe, Zima), Sandrine Piau (Zaire), Isabelle Poulenard (L'Amour, Phani), Noemi Rime (Fatime), Miriam Ruggeri (Emilie), Howard Crook (Valere/Damon), Jean-Paul Fouchecourt (Don Carlos/Tacmas), Jerome Correas (Bellone/Ali), Bernard Deletre (Huascar/Don Alvar), Nicolas Rivenq (Osman/Adario)
Les Arts Florissants, William Christie

Ancor che co'l partire
Hilliard Ensemble, Paul Hillier
Scarlatti, A:
La Griselda
Dorothea Roschmann (Griselda), Lawrence Zazzo (Gualtiero), Veronica Cangemi (Costanza), Bernard Fink (Roberto), Silvia Tro Santafe (Ottone), Kobie van Rensburg (Corrado)
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, René Jacobs

Premier Concert musicaux
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin
Schürmann, G C:
Suite Ludovicus Plus
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin

Dorothea Roschmann (Orasia), Roman Trekel (Orpheus), Ruth Ziesak (Eurydice), Maria Cristina Kiehr (Ismene), Werner Gura (Eurimedes), Isabelle Poulenard (Cephisa), Hanno Muller-Brachmann (Pluto), Axel Kohler (Ascalax)
RIAS Kammerchor, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Solistes du Knabenchor Hannover, René Jacobs
Ensemble Clément Janequin, Dominique Visse
99 comments| 56 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 October 2013
In about ten days, I've gotten about three-quarters of the way through this set, and I'm very satisfied with it. I owned several of the recordings in the set before I purchased this one (L'incoronazione di Poppea, La Calisto, Dido and Aeneas, Rinaldo, Flavio, and Cleopatre e Cesare as well as excerpt discs from Atys and Idomenée); it was, however, cheaper for me to pick up this set than to buy the individual operas I didn't have.

I find that packaging often tends to distract from the artistic quality of the music on the discs. Perhaps no classical label has come to offer plusher packaging than have Harmonia Mundi, yet, unlike other labels (especially those owned by huge media conglomerates), the quality of the packaging is much more often than not commensurate with the performances.

Nevertheless, even Harmonia Mundi fall victim to the occasional quality control lapse: I discovered that the composer on the three discs of Rinaldo is given as "Purcell." Well, nobody's perfect.

As has become standard for Harmonia Mundi in their large box-set reissues, they have included a CD-ROM containing the complete libretti for the sound-recorded operas. This sets them apart from many of their competitors (Universal, Warner--are you listening?) who've taken to issuing large box sets without providing libretti, either on a CD or online.
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on 7 September 2013
There is little point in commenting on the quality of the performances in this set, they have been reviewed in The Gramophone etc and if your taste is for good period performances you just cannot go wrong
I too was highly impressed by the box the operas come in, booklets etc - Luxurious Edition says it all
This is an unbelievable bargain even, as I do, if you already own some of the recordings
Buy it while it is there
0Comment| 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
It’s that time of year again: classical record labels have started releasing a plethora of box sets to tempt you in your Christmas shopping. With boxes of dozens of CDs costing what only a few CDs set you back ten years ago, how can you resist? It’s tempting to buy some of these box sets to fill in gaps in your collection. Others may contain many discs that you’ve long wanted. It’s hard to decide which sets to buy, with so many bargain-priced boxes.

Adding to the temptation this year is Harmonia Mundi’s Opéra baroque, a set with 39 CDs, 3 DVDs and one CD-Rom with sung texts. Divided into groups by country, this set contains music from Italy, France, England and Germany. There are 17 complete operas ranging in length from single-disc works like Dido and Aeneas to three-disc operas, such as Handel’s Rinaldo or Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes. Two of the operas are on DVD: Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo and Handel’s Giulio Cesare. And all this for a bit more than what I paid for just one of these three-disc operas ten years ago.

It’s fair to say that Harmonia Mundi has one of the finest catalogues of baroque opera, with an extraordinary roster of musicians and conductors. This set highlights the work of William Christie and René Jacobs, the label’s most prolific conductors, and has a list of soloists that include Andreas Scholl, Sandrine Piau, Mark Padmore, Lorraine Hunt, Werner Gura, Simon Keenlyside, Lynne Dawson and many others.

Each country’s recordings are grouped with a small booklet discussing its works. While there are some high-profile operas in this set – Lully’s Atys, Handel’s Rinaldo, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas – there are also some works that may be new to many listeners. These include Keiser’s Croesus, Scarlatti’s La Griselda, Telemann’s Orpheus, and Campra’s Idoménée.

I’ve had great pleasure dipping into this set. While I already own about one-third of the recordings, there are many that I wasn’t familiar with, making this a delightful discovery. At £54 or $135 at the time of this writing, it’s a steal; and it’s a limited edition, so make up your mind quickly.

My only criticism of the set is its packaging. Back in the early days of Big Box Sets, these packages were designed to look imposing. They had big jewel cases, and took up a lot of space. In recent years, most labels have released big sets with simple cardboard sleeves to save space. Harmonia Mundi has opted here for digipacks, which more than double the amount of space this could have taken up with simpler sleeves. (The content could easily fit in one of those now-common cube-shaped boxes.) Now that many of us own a lot of box sets, it’s a bit irksome to have another one that’s so big. But, if you’re buying it as a gift for someone, it will take up a lot of space under the tree.

Harmonia Mundi should be congratulated for this set. At a bargain price, it features some of the staples of baroque opera, along with a number of recordings that have been long out of print. As a primer, to those new to the genre, it’s a perfect way to discover the richness of the baroque stage. For collectors, it’s a great way to fill in gaps in a collection. And for anyone, it’s a wonderful box full containing more than 45 hours of musical surprises. Don’t miss out on this one.
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on 5 May 2015
Brilliant value boxed set. A very much appreciated gift, presented in an elegant box which folds open from the front for ease of access and storage. Great quality recordings with very informative booklets, including two DVDs and 39 CDs.
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on 19 December 2013
This is a fabulous collection that provides a thorough introduction to the glories of baroque opera: the music is sumptuous, glorious, and the singing is splendid. This is a must collection for every fan of either baroque music, or opera.
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on 29 September 2013
Absolutamente cada cd es una bocata di cardinale. La selección del repertorio y de cantantes, directores y orquesta es memorable. Gracias
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on 13 June 2014
Prior to purchasing this box my knowledge of baroque opera was limited to a couple of recordings of Dido & Aeneas, Arthur and an awful BBC MM CD of highlights from La Callisto.

Nearly a year in it still doesn't spend much time on the shelf. there is enough fantastic music to keep anyone going for a very long time.

The DVDs are slightly eccentric. The production of Orfeo is distracting from the music whilst Cleopatra & Cesare couldn't be any more camp if it had been designed by Julian Clary.

Many previous reviewers have commented on the quality of the packaging. As the possessor of a number of large box sets I will merely add it is easily the best quality I have ever seen. For this set £150 would be a good price, £100 a bargain. For a little over £50 it is almost theft.
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A wonderful edition and therefore a great introduction to this incredible universe
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on 10 December 2013
Must check the contents inside the box when you receive it.
Mine lost all 3 discs of Handel's "Rinaldo" !!!
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