Search - Handel - Ariodante / Hallenberg, Cherici, Vandoni Iorio, Nesi, Lepore, Stains, Prato, Il Compresso Brocco, Curtis, Pascoe (Spoleto Festival 2007) on DVD

Handel - Ariodante / Hallenberg, Cherici, Vandoni Iorio, Nesi, Lepore, Stains, Prato, Il Compresso Brocco, Curtis, Pascoe (Spoleto Festival 2007)
Handel - Ariodante / Hallenberg Cherici Vandoni Iorio Nesi Lepore Stains Prato Il Compresso Brocco Curtis Pascoe
Spoleto Festival 2007
Actors: Alan Curtis, Ann Hallenberg, Laura Cherici, Carlo Lepore, Zachary Stains
Directors: John Pascoe, Matteo Ricchetti
Genres: Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2008     2hr 37min


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Movie Details

Actors: Alan Curtis, Ann Hallenberg, Laura Cherici, Carlo Lepore, Zachary Stains
Directors: John Pascoe, Matteo Ricchetti
Genres: Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Classical
Studio: Dynamic (Italy)
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/26/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 2hr 37min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: Italian
Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
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Movie Reviews

A brilliant Ariodante
Mike Birman | Brooklyn, New York USA | 03/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"On 8 January 1735 at Covent Garden, Handel presented his new opera Ariodante, labeled a Dramma per musica in three acts. It was based on a libretto adapted anonymously from Ginevra, principessa di Scozia (1708) by Antonio Salvi which was based on Orlando furioso (1532 Canti 4-6) by Ludovico Arioso. Handel had been a shrewd and successful businessman ever since arriving in London in 1710, staging Italian operas to rousing approval from London audiences. But by 1735, Handel was undergoing a period of financial difficulty and professional uncertainty. His problems began with the phenomenal success of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, which opened in 1728 and ran for 62 successive performances, the longest run in the English theatre up to that time. A play with ballads and popular songs that satirized the passionate interest of the upper classes in Italian opera, it called into question the relevance of opera sung in Italian to a rising middle class that demanded less exotic and effete fare. This was followed by the arrival of Niccolo Porpora from Naples, who quickly entered into favor with the king and much of the English nobility, and became Handel's fierce rival, soon reigning supreme in London's theatres. Porpora had several hugely successful seasons at the Haymarket Theatre, and began to entice the finest performers away from Handel, with promises of larger fees and greater adulation. Handel now faced the prospect of bankruptcy (still an imprisonable offense) and was compelled to devise several schemes by which he might stave off failure and confront Porpora's phalanx of acolytes and sycophants directly. This forced him into his period of greatest creativity, which included renouncing Italian opera and inventing the English oratorio, for which he is most revered.

Ariodante was composed under these trying conditions. He spent more than two months in its composition, approximately four times longer than usual. Most of the music is new and it features some of his freshest, most ravishing melodies. With the help of theatre producer John Rich (the man who had staged The Beggar's Opera), Handel was able to procure Covent Garden and acquire a good cast. The opera features several innovations and points to a new direction in conception and design of Italian opera. Because of these innovations, it was not immediately successful but with time it was appreciated, remaining one of the more interesting and performed titles.

Alan Curtis and his Il Complesso Barocco are world renowned in the Baroque musical genre, with many superb recordings under their belts. This live performance, recorded at Teatro Caio Melisso, Spoleto in July 2007 as part of the Spoleto Festival's 50th anniversary celebration, places the action of the opera exactly 50 years ago, in 1957 England. The production is beautifully designed, wonderfully sung and brilliantly played. In fact, it is nearly perfect in all aspects. The music is some of Handel's best and it is so lovingly played by Mr. Curtis, that after watching it twice, I played it again just to listen to it. It is probably the finest recording of Ariodante I've heard, with a sense of musical rightness to it that makes me wonder if this isn't what Handel himself heard in his mind's ear as he wrote it. The cast is uniformly splendid, featuring mezzo-sopranos rather than countertenors. Mr. Curtis explains that countertenors are too slow in the low notes, having little fluidity in the lower register. Ann Hallenberg is a superb Ariodante. Laura Cherici is a splendid Ginevra. Mary-Ellen Nesi is equally good as Polinesso. Carlo Lepore makes a fine Re di Scozia. Not a weak link amongst the cast. Sets are simple but elegant as is the imaginative staging and lighting. This is a great performance. The sound is beautifully lifelike in both LPCM stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1, but the Dolby seems more reticent in sound and the audience applause at the end of the opera disappears on the Dolby Track. The PCM stereo retains the applause and sounds more forceful and immediate. The picture is filmed in High Definition and is crystal clear. The DVD runs for 157 minutes on two discs. Extras are filmed interviews with the director and with Mr. Curtis. A booklet is included.

A superb recording beautifully presented on DVD makes this a highly desirable addition to a Baroque collection. Most strongly recommended for those who love Baroque opera.

Mike Birman"
Robert L. Corrick | san francisco ca | 04/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"On the heels of the 2006 Spoleto Festival's beautifully sung, eye popping production of Vivaldi's Ercole comes this bravura 2007 performance of one of Handel's final operatic glories, Ariodante. Several of the 2006 team players are back {Alen Curtis, John Pascoe, Zachary Stains, Laura Cherici, Mary-Ellen Nesi} and are joined by the equally stellar Ann Hallenberg, Marta Vandoni Iorio, and Carlo Lepore. Together they offer an evening of profoundly beautiful musical theatre.

As a relative newcomer to Handelian opera my great discovery is how incredibly substance packed this music is. {A laughably naive comment perhaps; but I confess I have never before with Handel listened beneath the surface brilliance or allowed myself to be lured into the beating human heart of his music. My loss, now my discovery.} Like Mozart who also sits lightly on the ear this is music of great density, easily listened to, very accessible, but which reveals its depth slowly over a treasured friend, or a revered sage. What humanity. What beauty.

The performance is worthy of the opera.

One only need mention the name Alan Curtis and I Complesso Barocco to know we are lead and supported by mastery.

Laura Cherici outdoes her very fine Martesia with this performance of Ginevra. Sparkling voice and fireworks galore, wit, wretching pathos, and great stage presence.

Marta Vandoni Iorio is equally exciting as Ginevra's noble companion-cum-servant looking for love in the wrong places. Keeping a low profile through the first two acts, she lets loose with a vocal and histrionic storm in her Act III aria. So intense is her performance one could easily ask is the accompanying lightning coming from the heavens or is it emanating from her own turbulant soul?

In a cast line up of great performances Mary-Ellen Nesi as Prince Polinesso gives a GREAT PERFORMANCE. Superb acting and simply dazzling singing. To mention one moment; the path she takes in just the cadenza of her Act III aria is thrilling vocalism and scorching theatre.

As a stage persona Zachary Stains rides the very attractive edge between the tough and the tender, the hero and the poet. His Act II denunciation of Ginevra is delivered in a powerful barrage of cleanly excecuted coloratura, while his Act III duet with Dalinda could and does melt the proverbial stone with his honey toned sweetness and lyical delivery. Once again, as in his other work, the communicative beauty of this artist's diction is electric. The repeated 'dolci labbro del mio ben' in the duet is achingly beautiful. {Zachary, think 'Don Ottavio'}.

Ann Hallenberg as Ariodante is glorious. What a beautiful sound, even throughout its range and with a wonderful facility for coloratura. Even if there were nothing else of worth on this recording {obviously not my belief} I would still advise 'buy it now' just to hear her work. An amazing voice, technique and artistry.

John Pascoe's rich, darkly hued, northern light production is a fine companion to last year's al fresco, Mediterranean Ercole. As a tribute to Spoleto's golden anniversary he has set this Ariodante in a monarchial Scotland of the 1950s. Mr Pascoe shows his own considerable virtuosity in using several elements of last year's design as the basis for his sumptuous, conservative royal court. Plus, he gives himself the further challenge of a very limited palette; everything is black, greys, off whites with dashes of royal blue. The costuming, also within this color limitation, is gorgeous. The women in particular look like Cecil Beaton fashion photgraphy come to life. {What I would like to know - is that really Ercole's cape divested of lion trim and turned inside out that Ginevra wears on her first entrance? It sure seems so to these eyes.}

Ginevera's plight is something of a thorn {or thistle, owing to their well placed preponderance in this production} for this day and age, which is accentuated by the contemporary look. At the opera's end Mr. Pascoe provides a coup which helps to balance the injustice. In the final seconds Ginevra and Ariodante show us just what they will or will not do for love and power. A fine finish to a whalloping good show.

I like it.

A minor correction.
Dr. John W. Rippon | Florida | 03/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I totally agree with Mr. Birman's excellent review. Yes, this is a superb recording of one of the last of Handel's operas and one of the greatest. I do want to mention a small error in the booklet that comes with the recording. In relating the histroy of the opera's first presentation at Covent Garden on January 8, 1735 it says in the booklet that two new English singers were added Ceclia Young (Dalinda) and the tenor Stoppalear. However the tenor opposite Mme. Young was John Beard who played Lurcanio. Michael Stoppelear had a minor role as the lackey Odoardo. He does not sing any music but has a few short line of recitative. ( fide: The New Grove Dictionary of Opera)"
An Elegant Production
Paul Van de Water | Virginia, USA | 03/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This simple, elegant production of "Ariodante" lets Handel speak directly to his audience, without directorial interference. Although it is nominally set in a hypothetical Scottish court of the 1950s, the clothing and sets seem almost timeless (except for Dalinda's pearls, sweater set, and plaid skirt). With superb lighting and camerawork, the limited color palette--primarily white, black, grays, and blues--proves visually stunning. Several of the arias and duets are performed in front of a solid-color curtain, thus emphasizing their emotional content. Director John Pascoe completely avoids the distracting quirkiness of many recent efforts to modernize Handel (such as setting "Admeto" in a hospital or "Orlando" in a Swiss sanatorium). Alan Curtis, Il Complesso Barocco, and the fine cast deliver an excellent musical performance, as would be expected and as other reviewers have described. All in all, a wonderful addition to the collection of Handel stage works on DVD."