Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Patricia Petibon, Nicolas Rivenq, Maryseult Wieczorek|
Landi - Il Sant'Alessio / Petibon, Rivenq, Bayley, Josey, Wieczorek, Les Arts Florissants, Christie
Fascinating but difficult bit of opera history
andrew j frishman | Magdalena, New Mexico | 12/29/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Il Sant'Alessio was written in 1631, and thus falls into the same category as Luigi Rossi or Monteverdi. It subject is religious and it was produced as part of the current anti-reformation movement, meant to inspire Catholic pride and unity. It tells the story of St. Alexis, son of a Roman nobleman, who in embracing Christianity forsook his pagan family and lived underneath the front stairs of his own home, unknown to his relatives. The Saint's harassment by scornful Romans, his temptation by the devil, and the anguish of his loving family, who do not know what has happened to him, make this an interesting departure from early opera's normal mythological subject matter. Musically, the style is austere, dominated by recitative, with sparse accompaniment, though it is relieved by lovely ritornelli, choruses, and simple, heartfelt arias (Alessio's "O morte gradita" is particularly moving). Christie's conducting and singers are as flawless as always (Patricia Petibon has proven herself in Handel, Mozart, Delibes, and she is as beautiful as always here). The opera's sparseness and intensity may well be difficult for listeners unused to this style, and something like Christie's single-disc recordings of L. Rossi oratorios would be a better introduction to early 17th century vocal music; but for those who know they have an interest in the period, this recording is highly recommended."
First rate recording of this 17th century sacred opera
Steven Guy | Croydon, South Australia | 09/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are only two significant recordings of the operas of Stefano Landi I am aware of: Il Sant' Alessio and Stephen Stubbs' recording of La Morte d'Orfeo. Both are extremely good in my opinion.
I was a little surprised that William Christie and his Les Arts Florissants ensemble tackled this early 17th century Italian sacred opera, but of course, Christie has made some excellent recordings of Monteverdi's music and this recording probably provided him with an opportunity to build upon the experience gained from performing music of the older composer.
I have studied the score of Il Sant' Alessio from the FORNI facsimile of the original published score. I am happy to report that Les Arts Florissants' performance closely follows Landi's rather lavish (for the time) score. The work features double choruses and a large(ish) instrumental ensemble.
The cast of this recording is first class and fans of Patricia Petibon will, no doubt, want to own this recording because she sings the title role of the Saint (originally for soprano castrato or a soprano falsettist). The other cast members will be familiar to lovers of Baroque music recordings and opera productions: Nicolas Rivenq, Sophie Marin-Degor, Mhairi Lawson, Maryseult Wieczorek and Steve Dugardin. Australian tenor/countertenor, Christopher Josey, is here, too. Chris is in tenor mode in this recording. More recently, however, he had decided to sing only countertenor roles - I'd like to hear more from Chris in the future. The countertenor, Steve Dugardin, is someone I'd like to hear more of, too.
Patricia Petibon shines here, but then, she always does.
This is a recording for those who love the operas of Monteverdi and his contemporaries. Landi's score is more detailed and complete than any Cavalli or Caccini opera I am aware of, and I only hope other ensembles are tempted to record more of Landi's music in the future.
This recording was one of the finest Les Arts Florissants and William Christie made for ERATO. I only hope it continues to be available in the future. It is a pity that there was a video (and hence, a DVD) of this work made by LAF.
The recording dates from 1996 and that is when I bought it. I am still enjoying this recording ten years later.