HAYDN: L'anima del filosofo ossia Orfeo ed Euridice
by Joel Kasow
es, you see
correctly: this is how Oiseau-Lyre has designed their jacket for a new recording
of Haydn's last opera. And yes, this is a significant version, for it is the
first to offer spirited playing and singing, however one may react to the
Haydn's many gifts did not extend to the world of opera as
we have already amply seen in the series of Dorati recordings, much as we can
revel in the music itself. Like Schubert, his dramatic pacing is sometimes off
balance because the musical aspects take precedence over the dramatic. This
happens as well in Haydn's Orphic retelling, where one misses some of the
elements that make the Gluck version so remarkable. One might also reproach
Haydn for his weak act endings and the odd structure which gives greater
prominence to Creon than either Euridice or Genio The sterling moments, however,
are sufficient to merit an occasional hearing for the Haydn, for example, the
first death of Euridice and Orfeo's subsequent lament which are both striking
pieces of music.
Clearly conceived as a vehicle for Cecilia Bartoli who
takes the roles of both Euridice and Genio, we are in awe of her technical
prowess in Genio's aria, but her affectations are slowly taking over her
performances, the breathy pianissimo becoming a much-abused mannerism. Uwe
Heilman's neatly sung Orfeo lacks the eloquence of Nicolai Gedda and he too
often has recourse to a nasal production which detracts from his portrayal. Only
Ildebrando D'Arcangelo's Creon escapes criticism for the ease with which he
dispatches his three arias. The Academy of Ancient Music Orchestra and Chorus
are in excellent form under their ebullient leader, Christopher Hogwood.
Cecilia Bartoli, mezzo-soprano (Euridice/Genio)
Uwe Heilmann, tenor (Orfeo)
Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, bass (Creon)
Andrea Silvestrelli, bass (Pluto)
Angela Kazimierczuk, Roberto Scalatriti, Jose Fardilha, Colin Campbell, James Oxley
The Academy of Ancient Music Chorus and Orchestra
Christopher Hogwood, conductor
L' OISEAU-LYRE 452 668-2. (2 CD)
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