Friday, February 11, 2011

Vivaldi - Orlando Furioso - Scimone, I Solisti Veneti







It is getting on for some decades since Erato issued this performance of Vivaldi's opera, Orlando Furioso. The text, by Grazio Braccioli, is based on Ariosto's poem and Vivaldi produced the opera in Venice in 1727. There are some fine things to be found in Claudio Scimone's account of the opera—Marilyn Horne's portrayal of Orlando is one of them—but there are some oddities, too. One of these is the curious rearranging of scene sequences which, together with severalMarilyn Horne and Henry Lewis in 1961, photo by Carl Van Vechten substantial omissions, makes for a far from faithful or fair impression of Vivaldi's conception of the work. Another oddity is the assertive presence of an organ, often with long sustained notes, to accompany some of the recitative.

Yet, in spite of cuts, solecisms and oddities, the production has many enjoyable moments. The Overture is an attractive one, though in fact it does not belong to this opera but to one which Vivaldi had written some ten years earlier. The arias, too, are engaging for the most part with obbligato parts for a characteristic variety of instruments including flute, oboes, horns and viola d'amore. One of them, Orlando's "Fonti di pianto" (Act 3) has been translated by Scimone from its chamber cantata context (RV656) and has no real place in the opera. Some of the writing is particularly noteworthy, such as, for example, Ruggiero's tender aria "Sol da te mio dolce amore" (Act 1) with its florid flute obbligato. How much more affecting would it have been, however, had he been singing at the intended pitch. Scimone's approach to the arias strikes me as a little too languorous at times, an impression which is heightened by his liking for long drawn-out legato phrases. Occasionally, as in Alcina's drowsy "Amorose ai rai del Sole", this somewhat 'laid back' view of the music works to its advantage; but all too often I felt the lack of effective pacing both in arias and recitative. There are also some lively choruses towards the end of Act 2, musically shortwinded but, nevertheless, effective. Lovers of Vivaldi certainly will not wish to be without this issue N.A.


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