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Barry Brenesal
Fanfare, June 2007

This is very much a live performance and part of the 2004 La Coruña Festival in the Teatro Rosalía Castro. Alberto Zedda is among the older and more respected names in the Italian-Spanish operatic circuit, one that predates the current Baroque revival. It's no surprise that his approach to this work, or that of Federico Agostinelli, who furnished the performing edition, goes at matters from a different angle than the usual....The results here are neither the rich romanticism of early Baroque opera revivals, nor the instrumental and harmonic parsimony of a few modem-day extremists. A regular orchestra is deployed, but sparingly, with stylistically appropriate decorative lines beneath the vocal melody usually supplied by the strings or select winds.... There is enough here to give pleasure. The best, such as bass Carlo Lepore, tenors José Ferrero and the theatrically vivid Agustín Prunell-Friend, and mezzos Marianna Pizzolato and Marisa Martins (the latter so fine in the title role of a recording a couple of years back of Montsalvatge's El gato con botas), reveal sound technique, good phrasing, a proper appreciation for the words, and a fine way with the very brief coloratura heard in this production. Zedda paces the work with authority, and does a fine job of seconding his singers."

Sound is good and well balanced, though this is clearly a stage production offered live. Naxos offers a lengthy summary tied to specific cuts. Considering that our chances of hearing another Gli amori d 'Apollo e di Dafne on CD in the near future are slim to nonexistent, Naxos, Agostinelli, and Zedda deserve a round of applause for making this performance available. Recommended.



Richard Lawrence
Gramophone, April 2007

In 1637 the first public opera house in the world, the S. Cassiano in Venice, opened its doors. Cavalli's first opera was produced in the 1638-39 season, to be followed by several others at the same theatre. His next two operas, Gli amore d' Apollo e di Dafne and Didone, were composed to libretti by Giovanni Francesco Busenello, who subsequently collaborated with Monteverdi on L'incoronazione di Poppea.

Cavalli's operas, like those of his contemporaries, were set in the world, mythological or historical, of classical antiquity. Venetian audiences came for the singers and the scenery, both categories involving considerable expense. This meant that there was little money to spare for an orchestra, so the singers were accompanied by a continuo group of bowed and plucked instruments. In addition, there were a few strings for the sinfonias and ritornelli, with perhaps a pair of wind or brass instruments for ceremonies such as tbe Coronation scene in Poppea.

All this is well known, and fine recordings have been made with these forces by, for instance, Richard Hickox and Jane Glover. But Federico Agostinelli, whose edition is used here, has not merely added string, wind and brass parts to supplement the continuo harmonisation, but composed melodic lines to partner those of the singers. And in a booklet-note Alberto Zedda, the conductor, tries to justify this act of­well, let's say supererogation, by false analogies and by citing a treatise written more than 30 years earlier. In the name of "a freer interpretation of Baroque music ... in tune with the sensibilities of today's audiences", Agostinelli and Zedda have produced the equivalent of adding colour to a drawing by Rembrandt, Cavalli's contemporary, and projecting it onto a cinema screen. This is a deplorably retrograde step, which I also noted in my review of René Jacobs's DVD recording of La Calisto (3/07)

Having got that off my chest, I haven't much space left for considerarion of the performance, which is perhaps just as well. At the behest of Jove and Venus, Cupid causes Apollo to fall in love with the virtuous Daphne, who can only escape his attenrions by being transformed into a laurel. Mario Zeffiri makes an impassioned Apollo, Marianna Pizzolato sings sweetly as Daphne, and the Galicia Youth Symphony Orchestra copes bravely.






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4:05:47 PM, 19 September 2014
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