Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Cavalli - La Didone|
Actors: Claron McFadden, Magnus Staveland, Jordi Domenech, Fabio Biondi, Manuela Custer
Director: Carlo Majer
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Power of Recitative
Dr. John W. Rippon | Florida | 12/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Didone is one of some thirty operas (mostly comic) written by Francesco Cavalli (nee' Caletti) for the Venetian stage. It was premiered in 1641 when the composer was 39 and represents the mature period of his works. Cavalli was the pupil of C. Monteverdi and a worthy successor but his works are not in the same league as Monteverdi's Poppea or the Return of Ulysses. In this opera he and his librettist Gian Francesco Busenello tell the story of the tragic destruction of Troy, departure of Aeneas to Carthage and then the desertion of it's Queen Dido by Aeneas as he goes to Italy. Though writing on a heroic-tragic section of the Aeneid, the composer and librettist avoid a sad ending distasteful to the public by having Dido marry a King Iarbas of the Getuli in the last passages of the opera. The first act unfolds as a series of flexible dramatic recitatives. These are often as variations on descending tetrachord ostinato. They are very effective and their beauty is truly remarkable. The strophic lament of Cassandra and her mother Hecuba over the ruins of Troy is very moving. To me the farewell of Aeneas and his now dead wife Creusa is the most heartrending section of the opera. Yes there are dry patches throughout the piece but most of the work is quite rewarding. As noted the recitatives are quite variable, sometimes with accompanying or independent parts for other instruments in addition to simple ostinato, Arias, ariosas and duets appear in the second and third acts. These usually involve Queen Dido. She now looms large as the pivotal character and shows a range of emotions from haughty in initially rejecting Iarbas, cautious on first meeting Aeneas, meltingly amorous toward Aeneas after being "pricked" by Eros to suicidally distraught but noble after Aeneas, at the behest of the gods, leaves her for Italy. The Dido role is superbly developed by soprano Claron McFadden. There are many other roles in the opera so that the singers often take multiple parts. The staging is modernist but tasteful, the costumes understated but appropriate. One outstanding was for a brief scene for Juno (Hera) who started the whole war. She is dressed in a huge peacock crown, furs, excessive jewels and haughty demeanor. The production, sound and lighting all in HD DVD are great! Didone is a keeper."
Great performance, disappointing work
R. Hakemulder | Jordan | 05/29/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The first copy I ordered of this DVD set never arrived at my address, in Sri Lanka. Without much further ado amazon.com sent me a replacement.... thank you amazon, it confirmed you are the best...
This DVD has a lot of things going for it. Its greatest strength is the excellent singing and acting, in the first place by Claron McFadden, who is a virtuoso Baroque singer (listen to all those decorations!) and a convincing Didone. But nearly all the other singers, most of them not known to me before, are excellent as well, with maybe Jordi Domenech (Iarba) as the other great star.Magnus Staveland as Enea is, I think, an exception. He neither acts nor looks the role, although his singing is acceptable. But then, Aeneas is an unrewarding role in most operas that deal with his easy betrayal of the woman he claims to love and leaves weeping crocodile tears. Conductor Bondi and Europa Galanta produce a wonderfully intimate and expressive sound, and make what they can of this score. Whenever Bondi himself picks up the violin it is a joy to pick out his virtuoso playing. The production is rather unimaginative and at times a bit amateurish (why is that spotlight roaming around in such an irritating fashion, and was there really no better inexpensive way of imitating waves than two people pulling Neptune's train up and down?), but at least it is mostly unobtrusive.
Unfortunately all these efforts are lavished on a mediocre work. It has nothing of the flexibility, variety and expressiveness of Monteverdi's operas, and the Dido-Aeneas situation has none of the poignancy of Purcell's work. In fact, I was surprised when it was over.... was that all?! Yes, definitely, some of the recitative is expressive, but it does not compare with Monteverdi, and the few tunes that come in between are mostly simple and unsurprising. For me this was therefore an opera worth seeing once, but not again, and unfortunately that goes for all Cavalli's works. He is often dubbed a "worthy successor of Monteverdi", but don't be misled.... Monteverdi's worthy successor is Mozart, with Purcell and Handel coming close."
Venice Does Cavalli Proud
Joseph L. Ponessa | Glendive MT USA | 09/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The opera LA DIDONE had its premiere in the same year, on the same stage, as Monteverdi's IL RITORNO DI ULISSE. (The year was 1641, the stage was the Teatro San Cassiano in Venice.) The 73-year-old Monteverdi was releasing his last operatic masterworks, while the 39-year-old Cavalli was just entering his heyday. Eight years later Cavalli's GIASONE would become the most frequently performed opera of the 17th century.
On this DVD the forces of La Fenice do a marvellous job of presenting a Cavalli opera straight, without the horseplay and impertinence found, for example, on the DVD of LA CALISTO. Baroque music is easy to wreck. Thankfully the Venetians clearly admire Cavalli as a major figure in the development of opera, and show how well his works stay afloat when cast well and directed respectfully. Bravo, Veneti!"