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Judith Malafronte
Opera News, February 2013

CAVALLI, F.: Didone (Theatre de Caen, 2011) (NTSC) OA1080D
CAVALLI, F.: Didone (Theatre de Caen, 2011) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7106D

A live performance from October 2011 at the Theatre de Caen affords a superb introduction to Cavalli’s rarely performed 1641 opera La Didone. William Christie leads Les Arts Florissants in beautifully realized period style, while French stage actor Clement Hervieu-Leger, in his operatic directorial debut, draws powerful and moving characterizations from a large, versatile cast.

Act I…represents Cavalli and the Venetian style at their best, with incisive recitative writing and fluid musical movement in response to Busenello’s fine libretto. The direction of physical movement is precise and hauntingly effective…Christie’s continuo section is especially fine, lending support and color to the dramatic flow and creating atmospheric textures for the more static aria moments.

Costumes by Caroline de Vivaise suggest timeless elegance with touches of humor, such as a slouchy sweater and chinos for Cupid (the excellent young singing actor Terry Wey, who doubles as a sweet-voiced Ascanio).

Alert acting and sensitive singing characterize both the Dido of Anna Bonitatibus and the Aeneas of Kresimir Spicer, and their intense performances bring out all the power of this elusive early operatic style. Her dark, incisive voice and regal bearing soften at the first sight of Spicer’s bold yet tender Aeneas, and she inhabits the role arrestingly. Spicer’s responsive tenor and emotional commitment are stunning throughout…

Countertenor Xavier Sabata sings the role of Iarbas with intelligence and elegance…Other singers handle multiple roles with verve and style, particularly Katherine Watson as an affecting Cassandra, Mariana Rewerski as Creusa and Juno, and Claire Debono as a fun-loving Venus. Victor Torres brings warmth to the role of Anchises, while Joseph Cornwell is a strikingly effective Sychaeus… © 2013 Opera News

John W Barker
American Record Guide, January 2013

The cast here is a superb one, well-drilled in ensemble values.

This opera is not a mere antiquarian museum-piece. It is really vital lyric theater—just as we have by now recognized the Monteverdi operas to be. I found watching this production a deeply involving and richly rewarding experience. The superb musical results are what we would expect from Christie, and he has filled out instrumentation with stylish expertise. But my hat goes off to young stage director Clement Hervieu-Leger. Along with scenic designer Eric Ruf, he has developed simple and workable sets.

…this is a really valuable release. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

George Hall
BBC Music Magazine, November 2012

CAVALLI, F.: Didone (Theatre de Caen, 2011) (NTSC) OA1080D
CAVALLI, F.: Didone (Theatre de Caen, 2011) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7106D

There are no weak links in the cast, who impresses as a real ensemble of actors… Les Arts Florissants perform with enormous style © 2012 BBC Music Magazine

Brian Wilson
MusicWeb International, October 2012

CAVALLI, F.: Didone (Theatre de Caen, 2011) (NTSC) OA1080D
CAVALLI, F.: Didone (Theatre de Caen, 2011) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7106D

There need be no serious reservations about any of the performances on this Opus Arte recording.

Let me say at the outset that one major recommendation for this production is the lack of gimmicks in the production.

Anna Bonitatibus as Dido is first-class; her powerful mezzo voice is as resplendent as her wonderful name and Krešimir špicer’s Æneas is hardly far behind…I’d encountered Ms Bonitatibus before as Juno in Ercole Amante and Krešimir špicer as an effective Ulysses in the Virgin Classics DVD of Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse (4906129). They lead a strong cast here and I hope to hear both again.

William Christie’s direction can almost be taken to guarantee a fine performance and that’s the case here.

The recording sounds well enough as played on television but much better via my audio system. I haven’t seen or heard the blu-ray version, which doubtless improves on the sound and picture of the DVD, but you certainly wouldn’t be in any way disappointed with the latter. The camera-work is mostly unobtrusive…

If you wish to have only one Cavalli recording in your collection, this would vie strongly for that honour, ahead of Ercole Amante and alongside the inauthentic but hugely enjoyable Raymond Leppard recording of La Calisto…You may even find yourself preferring La Didone to Monteverdi. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

John Terauds
Musical Toronto, October 2012

In the superabundance of music in Toronto, there is one thing lacking: Baroque opera—especially this season, as Opera Atelier abandons it in favour of two works from the Classical period.

The pang feels all the stronger in watching tenor Kresimir Spicer…tear up the stage in this fantastic production by Les Arts Florissants of Francesco Cavalli’s 1641 work, La Didone…

The world has rediscovered the wonders of Claudio Monteverdi, one of the founding creators of opera 400 years ago.

Librettist Francesco Busenello draws the complex, three-act story of defeated Trojans, star-crossed lovers and capricious gods from Virgil’s 2000-year-old epic poem, the Aeneid, but the crux of every twist and turn in the plot is the human heart—in sorrow, jubilation, fear, hope, loathing and resignation.

The 3 hours fly by as an intensely intimate and personal experience.

Cavalli’s genius is in fully reflecting all those roiling emotions in the music, which always places the text first. That makes for a lot of recitative, but when it’s sung and acted this well, one barely misses the fact that there are only occasional short arias and bursts of ensemble singing.

The genius of this production…is how the simple set, streamlined modern costumes and the movement are all at the service of the emotional core of the text and music. © 2012 Musical Toronto Read complete review

Richard Lawrence
Gramophone, October 2012

CAVALLI, F.: Didone (Theatre de Caen, 2011) (NTSC) OA1080D
CAVALLI, F.: Didone (Theatre de Caen, 2011) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7106D

Anna Bonitatibus is outstanding, especially in her confrontation, impassioned but dignified, with Aeneas. Krešimir Špicer…is touching in Aeneas’s farewell aria. Back in Troy, Cassandra mourns Coroebus over a chromatic bass that descends, and descends further. Beautiful, and beautifully done by Katherine Watson. Fine supporting cast, especially Maria Streijffert as Hecuba and Xavier Sabata as Iarbas; elegant, well-paced conducting from William Christie. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

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