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Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, April 2008

"Kevin Mallon has regularly made his mark through vital readings of the baroque repertoire and this is no exception. The Aradia Ensemble on period instruments play well and the fairly long recitatives are taken at rather brisk tempos, which is a blessing in more ways than one. The dramatic tension is definitely maintained. Besides the harpsichord a cello and a theorbo are also employed as continuo instruments. Overall the instrumental side of this project is eminently well taken care of. I prefer the thrill and potency of this reading to a more polished but meek and bloodless version." [...]

"Several of the soloists are also accomplished. Best of all is Carla Huhtanen, a truly brilliant baroque soprano with excellent coloratura. Just listen to her second act aria Agitata da due venti (CD 2 tr. 4). She also sings Ombre vane (CD 3 tr. 4) with feeling. Marion Newman is an expressive, rather vibrant Griselda and the recitative and aria that finish act 1 (CD 1 tr. 15) is a dramatic high-spot. Lynne McMurtry also sings well as Roberto and has a very fine aria in act 2: Dal Tribunal d’amore (CD 2 tr. 5)." ..."I believe that many readers can derive a great deal of pleasure from Kevin Mallon’s recording – and it does have a price advantage."

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2008

I reviewed the first UK production of the opera in 1983, and though that worthy performance drew favourable critical response, the score still remains largely forgotten. Vivaldi’s output for the stage had been considerable, his operas numbering around twenty, of which 16 still exist in autographed score. By the time he composed La Griselda in 1735 he was fifty-seven and in the final sector of his fruitful life. He had intended the leading role for Anna Giro a mezzo, who, rumour would have it, was also his lover, and this involved changes being made to the submitted libretto to give her ample opportunities to display her skills. Those talents were, apparently, more given to her acting ability than her vocal adroitness and Vivaldi had to use all of his skill to cover the cracks in her technique. That involved creating a virtuoso role for the queen’s daughter, Costanza, the opera eventually concentrating on that character and her love of Roberto, a part also given to a female voice. At the time the opera seems to have been a success, but quickly dropped from sight. The story is slight, largely static, its extended length stretched far beyond its sustainability. Griselda is married to Gualtiero, King of Thessaly, but as she comes from lowly origin the populace grow uneasy at her exalted position and the King has to banish her from his palace. Yet still in love with her he sets out to prove her fidelity in a series of trials, which only prove that she has such love for Gualtiero that she is justly rewarded by her subject’s eventual devotion to her as their queen. Though Vivaldi did give a beautiful aria to Griselda in the third and final act, the part is not particularly rewarding, Marion Newman bringing a stately aspect to the role, but is much overshadowed by the Costanza of Carla Huhtanen, the vocal acrobatics dispatched with admirable security. Her timbre it is that of a typical French soprano, its lightweight quality ideal for the character of the young girl, and blends perfectly with Lynne McMurtry’s Roberto in their first act duet, one of the operas most attractive moments. The bass, Giles Tomkins, as Gualtiero does not have much of importance, and while the composer asks much of the tenor in the subsidiary part of Ottone, I find it a thankless part, Colin Ainsworth, doing his best to make it interesting. We have not the slightest idea as to how opera was sung in the Baroque era, which makes the use a period orchestra somewhat superfluous, though that comment would be churlish as the Aradia Ensemble is excellent, the sound attractive and vibrant, the natural horns bringing a tingle factor, while the opening Sinfonia is superbly played. The Irish conductor, Kevin Mallon, who has made this performing edition, is well within recent thoughts on how Vivaldi should be performed, tempos pushed along but without ever feeling rushed. The Naxos’s Canadian recording team and the results are outstanding in balance and inner clarity.

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