Academic journal article Notes

Antonio Vivaldi

Academic journal article Notes

Antonio Vivaldi

Article excerpt

Antonio Vivaldi. Orlando furioso. DVD. Jean-Christophe Spinosi / Ensemble Matheus. With Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Jennifer Larmore, Verónica Cangemi, Philippe Jaroussky. Paris: Naïve, 2011. DR 2148. $24.99.

Antonio Vivaldi's opera Orlando furioso, first produced in 1727, was his second opera to be adapted from the eponymous poem by Ariosto about the paladin Orlando driven mad by his unrequited love for the princess Angelica. It was not a success and went unperformed for 250 years, when an edition and recording by Claudio Scimone appeared. Presented as a vehicle for Marilyn Horne, the score was cut and rearranged to make her the central figure, and several roles written for castrato or female voices were reassigned to male singers. This edition was also the source for the 1990 San Francisco Opera production with Horne, the only previous performance to appear on video.

In this performance, from a critical edition by Federico Maria Sardelli for the Italian Vivaldi Institute, and filmed in performance at the Théâtre des Champs- Elysées in Paris, Orlando is no longer the starring role but becomes one of seven equal sized ensemble characters. The point at which the Horne recordings begin does not come until almost 40 minutes into Act I, by which time the characters of Alcina and Angelica are well established, and there are even more cuts which have been restored. Except for one baritone and one countertenor, the roles are all taken by women regardless of the character's gender.

The staging by Pierre Audi, founder of London's Almeida Theater, has come under some fire for removing all the medieval trappings. By eschewing plumed helmets, magic wands, and hippogriffs, Audi has created a drama about seduction, intrigue, and betrayal. Set in a nightmarishly outsized palazzo, the characters are costumed as eighteenth century Venetians, and with the assistance of dramaturg Willem Bruls he has created a piece which defies the expectation that baroque opera is dramatically weak. …

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