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Cat. No. CHAN 0773(2) Price: £21 No. of discs: 2
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CHAN 0773 - Handel: Flavio, Re de' Longobardi
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Available From: 15 September 2010
Handel: Flavio, Re de' Longobardi

Although Flavio, premiered in 1723, deals with motives of love, honour, and duty, the tone is domestic, with less emphasis than in many other operas on political or military changes of fortune. Though hardly a comedy, it does seem to move to a more detached view of human interactions. The action is set in Lombardy during the dark ages: the stratagem of sending unwanted individuals away to govern Britain – striking overtones of honour and punishment – would no doubt have been taken humorously by the London audiences.

The music embraces a wide variety of emotions, with duets, one for each pair of lovers, framing the beginning and end of the opera. In Act III, as one lover pleads the case of his rival, the ambiguity of the situation causes a splendid ironical frisson in the plot, reflected in the music. Handel revived Flavio once, in 1732, its modest success in its day reflecting the tastes of contemporary audiences rather than its musical or dramatic quality. It is far better appreciated today as one of the composer’s most inventive operas, full of the varied imagination, superb arias, and excellent melody we expect from Handel’s best operas.


Founded in 1994 by its music director, Christian Curnyn, the Early Opera Company is now firmly established as one of Britain’s leading early music ensembles. The Company’s debut production of Handel’s Serse led to an invitation to perform at the BOC Covent Garden Festival, and this was followed by three performances of Ariodante. In 1998 the Company made its debut at St John’s, Smith Square with a concert performance of Charpentier’s Actéon and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and was invited to stage Handel’s Orlando at the Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of the South Bank Early Music Festival.
Since then the Company has performed at many leading festivals. Highlights have included productions of Dido and Aeneas at the Vic Early Music Festival in Spain, Handel’s Agrippina at St John’s, and Handel’s Partenope at the Buxton Festival and the Snape Proms at Aldeburgh.

Future plans include performances of Così fan tutte at New York City Opera and Medée at Chicago Opera Theater.
For Chandos, Christian Curnyn and the Early Opera Company have recorded Handel’s Partenope and Semele (winner of the 2009 Stanley Sadie Handel Recording Prize) and Eccles’s The Judgment of Paris
 

Reviews

“…The playing is assured and stylish, the varied scoring of the orchestra parts providing one of the principal delights. The Singers, with Rosemary Joshua so refreshingly in the lead, unostentatiously prove themselves to be well up to the demands of music written in 1723 for some of the greatest singers of the day. The recording is clear and natural in balance and tone quality. There is not much left to ask for.”

John Steane - Classical Recordings Quarterly – Winter 2010                                             

"...Christian Curnyn leads a very good performance that does full justice to this negelected work. He paces the work well and is respectful of Handel’s score...The cast is also very good. Rosemary Joshua sings with accuracy na dbeautiful tone; she is dramatically invovled in the role, as are the other members of the cast... I have no hesitation in recommending
Curnyn as a first choice..."

Ron Salemi - Fanfare - March/April 2011
 

            ****
Marco Bizzarini

Musica - March 2011

“Not a great success in Handel’s lifetime but Flavio is exceptionally entertaining.”
“…I’d recommend this beautifully recorded new version of Handel’s flavoursome tragicomedy, for its … superior cast and orchestral playing and for Curnyn’s direction, stylish, lively and unaffected…”

Richard Wigmore

 

Gramophone - February 2011

                      ****
“… Rosemary Joshua hits the heights as the courtier’s daughter thwacked by Fate; lively work too, by Iestyn Davies as her betrothed…”  “Greatly entertaining…”
 GB

The Times - 4 December 2010

“…Curnyn directs a pacy, stylish performance…”  ****
GL

Early Music Today - December 2010

                 ***
Jeremie Bigorie
 

Classica - December 2010-January 2011

“…This is a particularly well-orchestrated opera, with a refreshing variety of accompaniments, all very finely played by members of the Early Opera Company.

Flavio is a work that is constantly suggesting riches beyond what the ear immediately absorbs.”
John Stearne


 

theclassicalreview - 8 November 2010

“…the delightful Renata Pokupic as her [Summers] lover, Vitige. Iestyn Davies’s plangent, fiery Guido and Rosemary Joshua’s diamantine Emilia could hardly be bettered …”

Hugh Canning

The Sunday Times - 7 November 2010

                  ****
“…This new recording is exemplary, with elegant, sprightly playing by the Early Opera Company, beautifully paced tempos set by conductor Christian Curnyn, and golden-age singing from Time Mead, Iestyn Davies, Rosemary Joshua and Andrew Foster-Williams.

Rupert Christiansen
 

The Telegraph - 30 October 2010

              Album of the Week
“… this early Handel opera allows Curnyn and his talented company to shine brilliantly: no other opera group comes close for inspiration and authenticity. Rosemary Joshua, Iestyn Davies Andrew Foster-Williams et al bring this lovely work to glorious life with fizzing ornaments and coloraturas.”

Michael Church
 

The Independent - 30 October 2010

          ****
“…Rosemary Joshua and Iestyn Davies prove worthy successors, nicely balancing expressive weight with virtuoso vocalism. Renata Pokupi is the stylish Vitige (breeches role), and with Curnyn’s Early Opera Company providing bright and fluent support …”
Andrew Clark

Financial Times - 31 October 2010

“This is Christian Curnyn’s third Handel recording for Chandos, and it is very welcome. Flavio has some fine music …”
“The most important character, Emilia, is sung by Rosemary Joshua. The aria ‘Amante stravagante’ at the end of Act I nicely displays her bright silvery tone…” “Iestyn Davies as Guido, Thomas Walker as Ugone and Time Mead as Flavio are all in command of those arias with rapid-fire runs …” The vocal star is Renata Pokupic as Vitige. Her ‘Non credo’ aria is beautifully shaped.”

Anthony Pryer
 

BBC Music Magazine - December 2010

“…those who have yet to experience the delights of Flavio need not hesitate to acquaint themselves through this recording. Curnyn and his musicians have done Handel proud.”
Hugh Canning
 

International Record Review - November 2010

 

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