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Customer Review

44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An aesthetic coup d'état, 3 Dec. 2010
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This review is from: Vivaldi: Ercole sul Termodonte (Audio CD)
Vivaldi's 1723 opera "Ercole sul Termodonte", his first to be performed in Rome, was a huge hit, pulling off what Oxford Professor of Music Reinhard Strohm described as "an aesthetic coup d'état in Roman opera". Director Fabio Bondi has attempted a reconstruction from the surviving (complete) libretto, along with various musical manuscripts scattered across Europe. He supplies full analytical notes concerning the reconstruction in the accompanying booklet. Essentially much of what we have here is a modern creation cobbled together by Bondi, filling in the gaps; normally this kind of thing, knowing that it's not quite the real deal, would bother me a little when listening, but the sheer beauty of this recording wipes away such worries.

Rolando Villazón (Ercole) for me personally has the kind of voice which belongs more properly to a later age, of Rossini and Verdi; but I can forgive this choice given the rest of the cast.

As the Amazons: Vivica Geneaux (mezzo, Antiope) is an authoritative queen; Joyce DiDonato (mezzo, Ippolita) is outstanding as a fearsome warrior princess falling in love with Teseo, delivering tender love songs; the lovely Patrizia Ciofi (soprano, Orizia) is sadly a bit underutilised in terms of the number of arias she gets; Diana Damrau (soprano, Martesia) is delightful but maybe lacks a slight edge at times.

Playing Ercole's Greek companions: Romina Basso (Teseo), billed here as a mezzo, delivers real depth like a contralto, a solid performance in the trouser role and for me probably the standout performer of this set; Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor, Alceste) is just gorgeous as always and probably my favourite performer of the moment; Topi Lehtipuu (tenor, Telamone) is more like my idea of a baroque tenor though seems to have a tendency to try to imitate Villazón at times, especially when the two of them converse in the recitative.

Bondi's direction is excellent, the ensemble "Europa Galante" combines beautifully with the vocalists, and the sound in the recording is warm and space filling.

The set comes as two discs in cardboard sleeves with sizeable accompanying booklet with notes, synopsis and libretto with translations, in English, French and German, all contained in a hinged cardboard box.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Dec 2010 22:52:47 GMT
MCK1945 says:
Very kind of you to forgive the choice of Rolando Villazon...
For me he's the best with Damrau...
But Nobody is perfect in his tastes.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Dec 2010 15:53:14 GMT
Jeremy says:
Villazon is an extremely talented singer, but his voice is less suited to the baroque repertoire (as his Handel recital disc demonstrated). This review is perfectly fair.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Dec 2010 19:54:00 GMT
Villazón brings Vivaldi's Ercole to life with his usual passion. He gives a new or a different aproach to this music, which is really interesting from my point of view. The rest of the singers are also splendid, specially Damrau and the always excellent Jaroussky.

Posted on 27 Dec 2010 09:25:52 GMT
Vivaldi: Ercole sul Termondonte
I think Wisty's review is fair but feel I must point out that Villazon is not a Rossini tenor - see Juan Diego Florez's recordings for that.
Also to be fair to Villazon, he does like to try music outside his lyric tenor repertoire and usually adds depth, passion and new meaning to his baroque recordings - long may he continue to enlighten us.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2010 21:15:18 GMT
For me, the point about Rolando Villazon is that he is a wonderful communicator and, as Mr. Whitehead says, he brings both passion and profundity to his baroque roles just as much as to his interpretations of later music. All of this helps to make him an outstanding, if a shade unconventional, interpreter of Monteverdi, Handel and Vivaldi.
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Review Details



E. L. Wisty

Location: O'er Hill And Dale

Top Reviewer Ranking: 177