J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 01/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am not generally a major fan of baroque opera -- call me a Philistine! -- but I've been hooked by the spate of releases from the French label, Naïve, which, when it is finished, will present in 100 CD sets all of Vivaldi's works found in his music library at his death. And this includes all 49 of his operas! I was intrigued by this one because it tells the tale of 'patient Griselda' whose story comes down to us from folklore as retold in Bocaccio's Decameron and, more familiarly, in the 'Clerk's Tale' from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It's the story of a wife who displays incredible patience in the face of the many cruel tests of her loyalty that her husband puts her through. No need to retell that story here -- except to say that Vivaldi and his librettist Apostolo Zeno (with some revision by Carlo Goldoni) soften the villainy of the husband, Gualtiero.
The music Vivaldi provides is really more a showcase for some incredible singing and abundantly satisfying music. And that is in this performance in abundance. There is some almost superhuman coloratura on display here, and there is not a single weak performance. Outstanding in the title role is the rising Canadian mezzo (although she's listed in the booklet as a contralto), Marie-Nicole Lemieux. I've been quite impressed by her recordings, mostly on Canadian labels, with the exception of the one that featured music by Brahms. Lemieux is definitely more suited to baroque music and here she is simply sensational. Her 'Brami le mie catene' in Act I is a real showpiece with sudden starts and stops, dramatic outbursts alternating with meltingly beautiful cantilena. Just as fine is her Act II scena, 'No, non tanto crudeltà'. Argentinian soprano Verónica Cangemi as Griselda's long-lost daughter Constanza is equally superb. Her second act aria, 'Agitata a due venti', is simply stunning. Simone Kermes is excellent as Griselda's rejected suitor, Ottone, and is especially notable for her management of the awkward register shifts in her Act III showpiece, 'Dopo un'orrida procella'. Tenor Stefano Ferrari is excellent as the husband, Gualtiero, although some of the incredibly difficult fioriture in his opening aria, 'Se ria procella', almost gets away from him. Countertenor Iestyn Davies delivers Corrado's Act II 'La rondinella amante' beautifully.
All of this would less effective if it weren't for the really superb orchestra, Ensemble Matheus, under conductor Jean-Christophe Spinosi's alert and sensitive guidance. The sound of the original-instruments orchestra is suitably dulcet or dramatic as required. All in all this is one of the best baroque opera recordings I've ever heard. I recommend it unhesitatingly, even for those who think they don't like baroque opera.
Greatness can be whimsical!
Dennis Figueroa | Orange County, CA | 02/28/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Singing baroque must be a test of skills for any singer, and singing Vivaldi must be a challenge that few take. Bravo for those singers like the cast of Griselda that still preserve and continue to grow this art. In Griselda, Vivaldi seems to have raised the bar higher, and taken fancy to montage voice onto overtures, and the result is quite fantastic and challenging for any singer. And no wonder, Griselda gave birth to some of Vivaldi's greatest and finest such as "Agitata", "Sento che L'Alma", "Dopo un'Orrida", and "Se Ria Procella". If the vocals are suppressed from some arias, the result is a sinfonia that stands alone quite beautifully too. Needless to say, the degree of technical difficulty is enough to make or break a singer. Casting a tenor for the role Gualtiero was clearly a great artistic call. It's refreshing. It works! Previous performances of this opera had only female voices. Not only does he get two of the most beautiful arias in the opera, but also Stefano Ferrari as Gualtiero gives a very whimsical performance in a vocal register rarely found in Vivaldi operas, the tenor. In "Sento che L'Alma teme", Stefano captures the psychological mood of the aria right on, and conveys the affliction, fear, and fright of the character. He also measures up to the task of singing coloratura and runs typically written for the heroines and villainesses in a way that sounds natural as charismatic for a male singer. His diction is fast and immaculate, never sacrificed for speed in the allegro or presto arias. Great performance!"
SONG CYCLIST | La Romain, Trinidad and Tobago | 01/02/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a newcomer to baroque opera and vivaldi. I now own five of his operas with Griselda being the latest. I must say I absolutely love this opera. Lemieux, Cangemi and Jarousky are superb. The coloratura is to die for and the orchestral playing is first class. Very exciting. I'm very passionate about singing, being a tenor myself and mainly singing the Mozart, Puccini, Donezetti, Verdi repertoire which is full of drama, but this is some fierce stuff. Its so refreshing to hear a tenor in this recording apart from all the "high" voices which could be a little texturally monotinous, and tenor Stephano Ferrari does a wonderful job with this demanding score. The act II trio is sublime and all the arias belonging to Cangemi and Kermes is total "madness" which I love. I would love it if Naive issue a dvd with their recording giving us a taste of these fine musicians working hard in the studio, at these operas for our enjoyment. [...]"
Vivaldi - Griselda
Bjorn Viberg | European Union | 11/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Vivaldi - Griselda is a great recording under the direction of Jean-Cristophe Spinosi. The Baroque period of music is one of the finest periods in my opinion. One never has to think about what one is listening to. If it is a Allegro, Andante or a Minuetto. The book-let is quite massive and contains (close to 150 pages) two very-well written short essays by Frederic Delamea, a short presentation of the performers, and the entire text in Italian, French and English, as well as many fine photos of the performers. The sound is quite crisp and I verily feel as if I was watching this performance live. Simply put it brilliant, 5 stars."
Tintin | Istanbul,TURKEY | 07/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like me the new (5 years) classic music listener, this product shines with its quality.So I am sure that older listeners will understand me and the quality of this product.The very best of Vivaldi."