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Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, January 2013

Here, in this work, in this production, Harnoncourt’s musical and dramatic instincts are flawless.

Flawless too are Grüber’s staging and the acting of the performers. Taking the concept of true Greek drama, Grüber’s staging, for the most part, uses costumes and sets reminiscent of very early Italian stage works…The costumes are not fanciful, overly ornate or cumbersome, but look like Italian peasant costumes. This gives a wonderful naturalness to the production: there’s almost a L’amico Fritz or Cavalleria rusticana feeling to the sprightly love duet between Melanto (Malin Hartelius) and Eurimaco (Bogusław Bidziński) in act I, and their singing is as magnificent, and magical, as their acting…the reference to Cavalleria extends as much to the staging as to the vocalism, and this is entirely appropriate.

Baritone Dietrich Henschel, in the dual role of Ulisse and “L’humanita Fragilita,” is also impressive as an actor and singer…mezzo Vesselina Kasarova[’s]…unusual chameleon-like voice changes timbre easily yet surprisingly from a hollow, countertenor-like sound to a full mezzo timbre, and she uses this changing quality of tone to bring emphasis to the texts.

The superb bass Anton Scharinger, known primarily as a Baroque specialist, surprises one with the power of his voice in his brief role as Giove—and even more so with the almost overwhelming power of his dramatic interpretation.

A special treat in this performance is to hear the young Jonas Kaufmann in the important role of Telemaco, Ulysses’s son…here his flexibility in the Baroque runs is smooth and well integrated into the voice…I have to say Rudolf Schasching in the role of Iro was so funny, and so good, that he practically stole the show when he was on. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

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