Monteverdi: L’Orfeo

Monserrat Figueras La Musica, Furio Zanasi Orfeo, Arianna Savall Euridice, Sara Mingardo Messaggiera, Cécile van de Sant Speranza, Antonio Abete Caronte, Adriana Fernández Proserpina, Daniele Carnovich Plutone, Fulvio Bettini Apollo, Mercedes Hernández Ninfa, Marilia Vargas Ninfa, Gerd Türk Pastore & Eco, Francesc Garrigosa Pastore & Spirito, Carlos Mena Pastore, Iván Garcia Pastore & Spirito, La Sapella Reial de Catalunya, Le Concert des Nations, Jordi Savall
114:09 (2 CDs)
Alia vox AVSA9911
© 2002 (Live performance)

This is a re-packaging of a popular staging of Orfeo which previously appeared as an opusArte DVD, and which I saw at the Edinburgh Festival (with a slightly different cast) a few years ago. Savall swept into the auditorium with a flowing black gown (looking for all the world like Professor Snape on a mission) and the music burst forth. The singing and playing is of a very high standard, although liberties have been taken with Monteverdi’s scoring instructions; you would think that when a composer indicates that certain music should be played by recorders, he would also note the other music he wants them to join in with… I was disappointed in the long dancing and singing shepherds scene that there appeared to be no discerible metric relationship between the sections, and that they did not seem quite to flow from one into the other. That said, there was plenty of drama in other portions of the work, and Zanasi’s “Possente spirto” was a real tour de force. The book (there’s no way if could be described as a booklet!) has lavish illustrations from the production and facsimiles of the score, as well as seven versions of the text (Catalan, Spanish and Dutch added to the usual suspects) and the now familiar biographies and discography. There are also two interesting essays, a synopsis and and introduction by the conductor. I cannot imagine why one would choose to own this rather than the DVD other than to have this book – the price is such that one can possibly afford to own both.

Brian Clark