Lynne Dawson is the star of this show. In Act 2, where Ginevra finds herself inexplicably rejected and condemned by everyone, Dawson brings real depth of tone and feeling to her E minor lament, 'Il mio crudel martoro'; in the final act she shines in the desolate miniature 'Io ti bacio' and brings much fire to the outburst 'Sì, morro'. But she never transgresses the canons of Baroque style. Von Otter, too, has much marvellous music – the aria 'Scherza infida' is one of Handel's greatest expressions of grief – and she sings it beautifully, but she isn't really at one with his idiom and seems to lack a natural feeling for the amplitude of Handel's lines. Yet there's much to enjoy here too, the beauty of the actual sound, the immaculate control, the many telling and musicianly touches of phrasing.
It’s an achievement when an artist can take a well-known work and interpret it freshly as if heard for the first time. This Marc Minkowski does with Handel’s Water Music by daring to challenge convention and expectation. Firstly Minkowski chooses to ignore modern musicology, which considers the work a continuous piece or a sequence of movements first in F major or D minor, then a mix of movements in D major and G major. Minkowski follows the earlier performance practice of presenting the Water Music as three suites, respectively grounded in F, G and D major which used to be called the Horn, Flute and Trumpet suites, designating the notable solo instruments. Minkowski also includes the two variant movements in F, HWV331, which are now thought to be a revision by Handel to create a freestanding concerto.
When Richard Wagner failed to have his one-act version of Der fliegende Holländer staged at the Paris Opera, the cash-strapped composer sold a synopsis of the plot, written in broken French. This was fashioned into a proper libretto, which was then set to music by Pierre-Louis Dietsch, who enjoyed 11 performances of Le Vasseau fantôme before it was pulled from the repertoire in 1843. Ironically, Wagner's success with Der fliegende Holländer in Dresden happened shortly after that, and the expanded three-act version has remained an essential part of Wagner's canon.
Henri Dumont is an important figure in the French Baroque scene in that he was one of the pioneers in the development of the "grands motets" that saw such fruit in the works of Lully, Delaland, Campra, Charpentier, Rameau and others. From what I've heard of his music, it tends to be a bit more subdued and sombre that a lot of the festive and almost manic works from some of the others mentioned. This disc has four motets, one of which; Dialogus de anima, has been recorded before. I have the versions by Herreweghe and Rousset.
The opera Platée by Jean Philippe Rameau is not just a comic opera but an opera in which the Gods of Olympus play a part. With his tragedies lyriques Jean Baptiste Lully had banned all comical characters from the opera, and musical comedies had become unfashionable. Thanks to works by André Campra and Jean-Joseph Mouret, however, the genre had not disappeared completely, and Rameau made his own contribution with Platée.
The ensemble playing on historical instruments realizes the exciting music with fixed access. .. an excavation, where you have his pleasure.– FonoForum
Dame Felicity Lott stars in a rollicking performance of Offenbach's operetta "La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein." The stage production was filmed in December 2004 at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris. The result is a kaleidoscope of artistry and comedy that should not be missed! This production goes back to the original version which had been adjusted and censored after it's premiere at the Theatre des Varietes in 1867.
Staged and costumed by Laurent Pelly, with sets by Chantal Thomas and choreography by Laura Scozzi, this production of La Belle Hélène never forgets for one moment that Offenbach’s parody of the origins of the Trojan war -clearly recognisable in his day as a satire on the moral laxity of Second Empire high society- is, above all, a supreme manifestion of his comic genius. From start to finish it combines a musically superb performance with a stream of visual humour that flows from Pelly’s core idea that the action all takes place in the imagination of a sleeping, sex-starved, suburban housewife. Dame Felicity Lott is magnificent as the woman who gets into bed beside her somnolent old husband and dreams of being the most beautiful woman in the world, entangled in amorous adventures with the virile young Paris, tastily portrayed by Yann Beuron. And just as dreams do not respect the normal limitations of logic, time and place, so her nighttime fantasies combine the everyday with the mythical, and muddle up Greece, ancient and modern.
Like many renditions of Bach's monumental B Minor Mass, this one puts forward a musical argument: in this case, for the use of a vocal ensemble made up of ten soloists rather than a choir. Minkowski's approach may be historically aggressive, but the sound is unstintingly lovely and the pared-down arrangements shed an interesting and unusual light on this most familiar of the baroque masterworks. Highly recommended to most classical collections and all period-instrument collections.–Rick Anderson
Platée was one of the most highly regarded of Rameau's operas during his lifetime. It even pleased critics who had expressed hostility to his musical style during the Querelle des Bouffons (an argument over the relative merits of French and Italian opera). Melchior Grimm called it a "sublime work" and even Rameau's bitter enemy Jean-Jacques Rousseau referred to it as "divine". The reason for this praise may be because these critics saw Platée, a comic opera, paving the way for the lighter form of opera buffa they favoured.