The Rival Queens ... Handel and Hollywood
Flavio "Senesino" Ferri Benedetti G | Europe | 10/15/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Rival Queens - REVIEWThis is really an outstanding CD ! First , you get rare arias , from rare operas with two beloved and expert Handelian divas , a gorgeus baroque orchestra (The Brandemburg Consort) perfectly directed by Roy Goodman and ...well , let's discover it !First of all you have a complete libretto , with a section for every opera and a wide range of research : gosh ! You will love to read it ! Moreover , not to talk of the astonishing cover photo with MY EMMA and Catherine! Marvelous! Meraviglioso! Well , let's see what you get in each opera:ALESSANDRO (HWV21) : Really great piece , indeed , Alessandro has got a top-form Handel --> First rate music , in all the places ! A gorgeus Overture , with a splendid "Alla francese" , ossia "Grave" , and a MARVELOUS FUGA (hear the oboes!! You must hear it ! Well , then there's an unusual accompagnato recitativo duet (strange, no? ) and the splendid "No , piú soffrir non voglio" , aria di bravura , of course! This is for Cuzzoni , sure , and for Faustina (alias Emma) , you get an amazing "Aure , Fonti" , typical "Locus Amoenus" aria ! Oh , I forgot the music accompaining the Battle , the war . Amazing .Then , two lovely arias , "Che tirannia d'amor" (Cuzzoni again) and "Dica il falso" (Faustina) . Even here you reach the paradise , but there is more for you inside !! ADMETO (HWV22) : just two arias from this unbelievable opera , one for each Regina . Cuzzoni (Antigona) , sings "La sorte mia vacilla" after a long dialogue between the divas ("So you want to love MY HUSBAND , ah !") . Really great aria , of course . Poor Emma - Faustina ! She replies : "Vedrò fra poco" ... ( I will see , tsk tsk! ) =) Who will win the race to get Admeto's love ? Surprise !RICCARDO PRIMO (HWV23) : Oh lovely ! First , a heart-taking-moving-surrounding accompagnato , with a bass flute (!) and Costanza-Cuzzoni-Bott , wishing the death ... poor ! And this is nothing , phew ! You cries here , and you laugh after , with the tragicomic-dramatic Pulcheria (MY DEAR EMMA!) and ... surprise ! Yes , do you remember Dolly's aria , ossia , the clonation Handel examination trying to convert a lamb into two chalumeuax? Yes , he does it , and the little lamb (beh beh behhh) in converted in two first-rate early clarinetti (good sound!)... I love it ! "Quando non vede" . BELLISSIMA EMMA!SIROE (HWV24) : Here you are a Handel's greatest hits ! Yes , because Siroe had many many performances (thanks to the presence of our Regine ?) . And it is worth the half guinea to enter in the theatre ! Ok , you gets only 2 arias (but who cares , if they are so good!) . Cuzzoni sings "L'aura non sempre" so marvelous in the cadenza , and Faustina "Non vi piacque" , so it seems Faustina feels like Dolly , or like a lamb , or both (once again she uses a sheep for an aria , oh dear !)TOLOMEO (HWV25) : Here is my favourite , yes , I am not partial ... I have a special love for "Tolomeo" , maybe because I love to read and read again the vocal score or perhaps becuase simply it's GREAT ! Well ... Only two arias here , but I confess , there are more in the opera , and ALL OF THEM are great ( Elisa's " L'augelletto " !) ... here you have "Fonti Amiche" , very similar to "Aure , Fonti" by Cuzzoni this time ! (oh yes , roles are changed in this opera : Cuzzoni is good and Faustina is evil!!) and Faustina (evil King's sister) sings "Ti pentirai , crudel" ... GOSH! You have to hear it! Finally , I can say Emma is in great form as always ( I LOVE EMMAAAAAAA , sorry..) and Catherine Bott ( Good old friend since she did Musica in Orfeo's Monteverdi!) sounds like a sopranist , so .. what do you wish more? Get it and be happy!"
Duets? A misnomer of a sub-title
Flavio "Senesino" Ferri Benedetti G | 10/07/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There's precious little duet singing on this disc - understandably so, as the original "Rival Queens" of the title loathed each other and there was inevitably some sort of cat-fight when they were forced into each others' proximity. Be that as it may, I found myself a little disappointed in this recording - mostly, I'm afraid, because of Catherine Bott. I have heard her sing extremely well - in the repertoire of Strozzi, Monteverdi, and earlier music - but I don't believe Handel music is her forte. The almost asexual quality of her voice does her disservice when it comes to the delicious melodies of Handel. Her rapid passage work, too, was unexpectedly disappointing in comparison to the - as ever - exquisite singing and clean coloratura of Emma Kirkby, for whom this sort of repertoire is ideal. I'm glad I have this recording for the arias which Kirkby sings, but as for the one real duet "Placa l'alma", it's sung better on the recording of the entire opera of "Alessandro"."