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Colin Clarke
Fanfare, January 2014

The…production is fascinating, visually involving, and contains playing and singing of great beauty as well as dramatic bite.

The orchestra is on top form, and throughout relishes Handel’s many challenges…The lighting and staging, comprising blacks and various grays at the opening, is magical. Indeed the lighting is consistently excellent…As Cesare, countertenor Flavio Oliver is remarkable…

Perhaps the star of the evening is contralto Eva PodleĊ›’s Cornelia; her superbly creamy act 1 lament is incredibly touching, unhurried, and with a marvelously tender accompaniment from Hofstetter. Her voice is beautifully free, and the audience’s cheers after that lament reflect the excellence of her delivery. Her act 2 aria “Cessa omai di sospirare” is a model of taste and decorum. Elena de la Merced (Cleopatra) has a bright edge to her voice, which comes in delicious contrast to the female voices heard so far. Her “Non disperar” is light and simply gorgeous, as is her second act aria, “Se pietà di me non senti” (add to this that the accompaniment here, once more, is absolutely ravishing). She seems to save up her expressive energies, though, for the most famous aria from this opera, the act 3 “Piangerò la sorte mia.” Even on DVD it sends shivers down the back, so one can only wonder about its impact in Barcelona.

Jordi Domènech’s rendition of Tolomeo’s act 2 aria, “Sì, spietata, il tuo rigore” is dispatched with great power, as is everything he touches here. Maite Beaumont is a lovely Sesto with great legato. There is proper fury in her aria (“Svegliatevi nel core”), and great drama to “L’aure che spira,” which brings the second act to a close.

…there is so much to enjoy overall here, particularly, perhaps, in the unfailing dramatic instincts of Michael Hofstetter, in the remarkably consistent excellence of the cast, and in the staging’s many striking images…that this remains a very worthwhile purchase indeed. Musically, Handel’s magnificent opera is done proud. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review





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