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Cat. No. CHAN 0614(2) Price: £21 No. of discs: 2
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CHAN 0614 - Vivaldi: Ottone In Villa
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Vivaldi: Ottone In Villa

Richard Hickox directs a stunning line-up of soloists in the premiere recording in this new edition of Ottone in villa.

Vivaldi wrote almost fifty operas of which only sixteen complete works survive and are preserved in full score. They do not only show his brilliance in writing for the orchestra (as one would expect), but also that he was equally adept at writing expressively and dramatically for the human voice. Though already famous as a composer of concerts when Ottone in villa appeared in 1713, Vivaldi was also involved in the management of two theatres, the Saint Angelo (1713-17) and San Moisè, for which he wrote some five operas in all. He was commissioned to write a steady stream of operas thorughout his life, for various cities and theatres. His style became more elaborate in his final period, with highly decorated vocal parts resulting in the orchestra occupying a more subordinate role. However, it is felt that his earlier operas are more sucessful and self-assured.

Ottone in villa is more erotic and pastoral than heroic in content. The story revolves around the Roman emperor Ottone’s mistress, Cleonilla. The handsome youth Caio also courts Cleonilla, to the dismay of his lover Tullia, who, disguised as a man under the name of Ostilio, attempts to win him back by conquering Cleonilla’s heart under her feigned masculine identity. This ruse works: Ottone comands Caio to marry Tullia and Cleonilla survives with her reputation in tact. Apart from the drama of the opera, there is much interest in the vigorous instrumental figurations and imaginative scoring, which is such a feature of this composer’s orchestral music. One delightful touch is in Caio’s magical aria L’ombre, l’aure, e ancora il rio’, which has two vilins and two recorders concealed on stage to evoke the breezes and the brook respectively.

Reviews

"... warmly recomended ..."
Michael Talbot - IOC - Autumn 1998

 ’Pick of the Week
"...Moments of intense beauty and pathos follow scenes of humerous revelation. The music and singing are vivid and imaginative, often entrancing..."
Fredric Koeppel - The Commercial Appeal - 26 April 1998

"... The orchestra, under Richard Hickox is dynamic and vibrant. One hopes that a recording of this quality will give this opera a new lease of life, as it is surely over-due for a stage revival."
Erica Jeal - Opera - July 1998

"...The performance is first-class, with a uniformly fine cast of soloists, alert and eloquent playing from the excellent little Collegium Musicum 90, and perceptive direction from Richard Hickox ... The recorded quality is also high, with good balace, clarity and atmosphere."
Peter Branscombe - Hi-Fi News & Record Review - July 1998

Performance ****    Sound *****
"A first-rate performance ..."
Paul Riley - Classic CD - June 1998

"...The singers are in top form ... Richard Hickox obtains a sprightly performance."
The Sunday Telegraph - 12 April 1998

"... Richard Hickox keeps a firm rhythmic hand on everything and delivers quite the best and neastest Vivaldi operatic recording yet."
LS - Gramophone - May 1998

"... The singing is uniformly excellent, with tasteful decoration added to the da capos - enough to be effective, not enough to be obtrusive. These musical standards are matched in the booklet... If you have any doubts about Vivaldi as a composer of opera , this should convert you."
David Hansell - Early Music Review - April 1998

"... A delight from beginning to end."  *****
AC - The Scotsman 6 March 1998

"...Ottone in villa (1713) was the first of Vivaldi’s 50 or so operas. It follows a classic formula in alternating recitatives with arias, but within that orbit Vivaldi writes much catchy music, delicate, fluid, zestful and often touching. These qualities are echoed by the superb singers on this recording, and reinforced by alert period-instrument playing. The excellent sleeve notes are a boon."
Geoffrey Norris - The Daily Telegraph - 28 February 1998

Performance ****    Sound ****
"Recommended"
Graham Lock - BBC Music Magazine - April 1998

"...As Caio, perhaps the most complex character, Nancy Argenta paints a vivid picture of a man who blindly wrongs exactly as he is wronged. Monica Groop’s Emperor Ottone conveys well a sense that he isn’t quite on the same planet as everyone else. Susan Gritton and Sophie Daneman are excellent as Cleonilla and Tullia while Mark Padmore, the only male singer is stylish as Ottone’s confident Decio. Richard Hickox keeps the piece moving briskly."
SP - The Sunday Times -  22 February 1998

 

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