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Bill White
Fanfare, March 2013

HANDEL, G.F.: Rinaldo (Glyndebourne, 2011) (NTSC) OA1081D
HANDEL, G.F.: Rinaldo (Glyndebourne, 2011) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7107D

As might be expected from Glyndebourne, the musical side of things is first-rate. The classy period ensemble, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, is led here impeccably by…Ottavio Dantone. All of the singers are very good, starting with contralto Sonia Prina as Rinaldo. Prina…sings the music very well…Goffredo is sung by mezzo Varduhi Abrahamyan and Eustazio by countertenor Tim Mead, both in fine voice…The enemy forces provide some of the best music in Rinaldo and here coloratura soprano Brenda Rae as Armida scores a triumph in some of Handel’s most difficult and spectacular music. Rae is able to portray both the alluring seductress of Rinaldo and the angry twice-rejected sorceress with equal skill and believability. Luca Pisaroni brings his fine bass-baritone voice to bear on the role of the Saracen leader, Argante, and produces some highlights of his own. Soprano Anett Fritsch gives us a very well sung “Lascia ch’io pianga” as Almirena…

…it comes in razor sharp Blu-ray video and hi-def surround sound. Recommended. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Richard Wigmore
Gramophone, January 2013

HANDEL, G.F.: Rinaldo (Glyndebourne, 2011) (NTSC) OA1081D
HANDEL, G.F.: Rinaldo (Glyndebourne, 2011) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7107D

There are some good visual gags—the explosions in the school chemistry lab, Rinaldo’s magic flying bicycle, the hilarious final battle-as-football-match. The cast throw themselves into their roles with skill and verve.

Contralto Sonia Prina sings colourfully…and sensitively negotiates the production’s shifts between Rinaldo the timid, bewildered adolescent and Rinaldo the macho hero. As a pigtailed bespectacled Almirena, soprano Anett Fritsch is true and touching both in her birdsong aria with sopranino recorders…and in ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’. The rich-toned…Varduhi Abrahamyan and the firm, unhooty countertenor of Tim Mead make their mark as the Christian knights.

Filming is effective…The extras, too, are worth having, with thoughtful, unclichéd comments from producer, conductor and leading members of the cast. © 2013 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Henson Keys
Parterre Box, October 2012

Handel’s 1711 opera Rinaldo was the first Italian opera ever written specifically for the London stage. It therefore seems fitting that Glyndebourne would mount a major revival of the piece to celebrate its 300th anniversary.

…Carsen’s conception is admirably consistent with the story; there are no jarring moments when the music or the drama seems out of place with the modernization.

The finest singing on this DVD comes from bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni as Argante. From his first entrance aria through his duets with Armida (Brenda Rae), Pisaroni sings with style, power, and flexibility.

Ms. Rae makes a stunning entrance with her frenzied aria “Furie terribili!…Anett Fritsch brings a dewy innocence to Almirena and sings brightly…

Commendations go to the chocolaty mezzo/contralto of Varhudi Abrahamyan as the Crusader’s leader Goffredo as well as the very light counter-tenor of Tim Mead as her brother Eustazio.

There is very fine playing throughout by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under the enthusiastic baton of Ottavio Dantone. Maestro Dantone has a lovely sense of the subtle colors and shadings of this music, and manages to make perfect transitions between martial battle music and quiet, personal songs of love and sadness.

All in all, Carsen has created an idiosyncratic and interesting “take” on Rinaldo, and the audience for this August 2011 performance seems thoroughly entertained. © 2012 Parterre Box Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2012

Rinaldo was the first opera written by Handel for premiere of the London stage following his decision in 1711 to set up his home in England. Folklore would have it that he composed the whole score in a fortnight so it would be ready for his arrival, a proposition that may not be too far fetched as he fobbed-of the Haymarket company with some previously composed arias embedded into new material. It enjoyed success, but as the years passed by he added new arias, changed male to female roles, and eventually rewrote the score the early 1730’s. That does raise the specter of which version we should want to retain period authenticity, though when you see Robert Carsen’s Glyndebourne Opera production you will realise that it does not really matter in slightest. Updating it into our own time, it rather gets mixed up with the characters in the famous British comedy film of the notorious St.Trinians school. In its original version it is set in Jerusalem with the Crusader army repelling the Saracens. A simple love story is then converted into a complex plot in which we find a sorceress; magical transformations of appearance and all the trappings that make it unbelievable. As one suspects, it all ends happily when the lovers are united and the victors join the defeated in a chorus of reconciliation. Here it begins as a school history lesson in which the historical characters are assumed by the adolescent school children; the love scene taking place in the bike shed, and opposing sides being young men and miniskirted females. It all ends up with a football match in which the boys are victorious and the young lovers are united, though as the curtain comes down, the young boy is back in his history class—did it all really happen, or was it just his imagination? Vocally the cast is very good, though the brilliance, vocal acrobatics and perfectly focused tone of the soprano, Brenda Rae, as the wicked sorceress, Armida, upstages everyone around her. Visually Sonia Prina is too diminutive for Rinaldo, but both she and Anett Fritisch as Rinaldo’s beloved, sing with a period assurance where the decorations of vocal line are very well handled. Tim Mead as Eustazio, the chief of the Crusaders army and Luca Pisaroni as the Saracan leader, are the pick of the remaining cast. Handel would not have recognised it, but if you want a fresh and fun version of a serious opera, complete with audience laughter, this is an absolute ‘must have’ release. Very good playing from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and a visually outstanding video, with the usual translated subtitles. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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