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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

Steven Ritter
Audiophile Audition, January 2013

This live French performance is a real beauty. Virtually anything William Christie touches these days is, and the cast he has assembled is second to none with Anna Bonitatibus simply stunning in the title role…her portrayal finds the right balance between Queen and teen. The sets are simple but profoundly functional and nice to look at. There is much to admire in these three hours, and the music by and large sparkles away. If this period of music history interests you, this is a first rate production given in superb sound and a fine filmed manner. © 2013 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

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

Lawrence Devoe, October 2012

This 2011 Teatre de Caen production was directed by actor Clement Hervieu-Leger and featured the outstanding early music ensemble, Les Arts Florissants, under the knowing baton of William Christie. The vocal cast, many of whom assume multiple roles, keep reasonably close to the period style and we are treated to some excellent solo performances.

Opus Arte seems to be blessed with great videographers and this one is no exception. The close-ups are extremely life-like and the camera coverage of the set superb.

Bringing a nearly four century old work to life requires a lot of cleverness in staging and direction. Having Hervieu-Leger, a Comedie Francaise actor, assume the directorial responsibilities works quite well and sidesteps the often static nature of early opera. Vocally, we get some excellent performances. © 2012 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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