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David Shengold
Opera News, October 2013

Under Marcos Magalhães, the musicians perform with stylistic distinction and pleasing clarity. The entire cast seems to grasp the demands of the style. The soprano Ana Quintas sings the title role with bright, clean tone, admirable agility, control and decorative flair. © Opera News

Alan Swanson
Fanfare, May 2013

…the details of this story are actually quite funny and, though long, the whole opera moves quickly. This is helped by the lively, but not rushed, conducting of Magalhães. He is assisted in this by the quick responsiveness of his own orchestra and in no little way by fine singing and vocal acting. I particularly enjoyed hearing Ana Quintans as Spinalba, who, alas, hardly gets much to do in the opera, and the Elise of Inês Madeira is sonorous. A great deal of the low comedy revolves around Togno, and João Fernandes has the part down to a T. One of the pleasures of this recording, however, is that the singers are well matched in terms of the evenness of casting and well differentiated by their vocal qualities. It would be invidious to pick among them, for all are good.

This recording is open with good balances, and is to be recommended for anyone curious about the lively suburbs of early opera. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Brian Wilson - Download News 2013/1
MusicWeb International, January 2013

…the music is very agreeable, often much more, as are the performances, with no weaknesses among the voices. The recording is good and Keith Anderson’s notes, as usual, are an additional incentive to try this out. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2012

Though too little was written of his life, it would appear that Francisco Antonio de Almeida was one of the foremost Portuguese composers of the early 18th century. With untold wealth flowing into Portugal from its colonies, King Joao had designs on placing his country on the artistic map by importing such musicians as Domenico Scarlatti, and sending his foremost young musicians to further their education in Italy, among those selected was Almeida. He then seems to have lived in Rome for some time and composed there, and was the first to offer an ‘Italian’ opera by a Portuguese composer on his return to Lisbon. At that time dramatic operatic scores were not popular, so that he described La Spinalba as a ‘Dramma comico’, and completed it in time for the 1739 carnival. Whether it was performed only for the enjoyment of the Royal Court is uncertain, but the score has survived, and was revived in modern times with a performance in Lisbon in 1965. Briefly the plot describes a young woman, Spinalba, who disguises herself as a boy to spy on the young man, Ippolito, who she believes is being unfaithful to her. But in that disguise her cousin, Elisa falls in love with her, though she, in turn, is loved by the wealthy Leandro. All of this drives Spinalba’s father, Arsenio, into apparent madness, that situation allowing Almeida to create some comic scenes. All is resolved in the third act, Ippolito accepting his previous infidelity and pledging his love to Spinalba alone, while Elisa finds she does love Leandro, and with Arsenio once again sane, all ends happily. With an overture in three sections, it is a very long opera whose total playing time exceeds Wagner’s Lohengrin. I came upon the work in the early 1970’s on a Philips release, and thought it a cut above other Baroque operas I had encountered, though the performance was patchy. The present cast comes mainly from Lisbon, Ana Quintans’ soprano offering a technically secure Spinalba, her Ippolito of Fernando Guimaraes likeable…There is no such problem with the lightweight tenor of Mario Alves as Leandro, his Elisa, from Ines Madeira, sounding a young lady not to be crossed. It is then left to the pert voice of Joana Seara to almost upstage everyone in the roll of the maid, Vespina. The Portuguese period instrument group, Os Musicos do Tejo, may well be more authentic in sound than the polished quality of the many famous UK groups, and lacks nothing in enthusiasm under the direction of Marcos Magalhaes. Well balanced sound, and a pleasing discovery for Baroque enthusiasts. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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