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La Verita in Cimento

Vivaldi Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 45.23 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Naguère, l'on ne connaissait de Vivaldi que ses Quatre Saisons. Aujourd'hui, la musicologie a à ce point progressé qu'elle est en mesure de présenter pas moins de 90 opéras du compositeur vénitien ! La Verita in cimento est de ceux-là : treizième opéra de Vivaldi, il a été créé en 1720, au théâtre San Angelo de Venise. La trame dramatique ? Tarabiscotée, on s'en doute. Rappelons seulement que l'histoire, sur fond de crise familiale, balance en permanence entre le tragique et le comique, et repose sur une sombre histoire de substitution d'enfants. Quoi qu'il en soit, Jean-Christophe Spinozi a su réunir les meilleures chanteuses que l'on puisse imaginer pour cette exhumation, qui, d'emblée, s'impose comme un événement discographique. --Pierre Guillaume

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Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By M. Figg
Format:Audio CD
I'm a huge fan of Vivaldi (instrumental and vocal music), and I just purchased this set and was overwhelmed by the variety and energy of the music. Most criticisms of Vivaldi center on a supposed sameness to his compostions, however this opera unveils aria after aria filled with interesting and surprising vocal parts and orchestration.
To be fair to potential listeners, this is not a very "natural" style of singing that one might find in Verdi or other Romantic-era composers; this is "Baroque" in a very literal sense of that word: the singing is very technical, elaborate and more concerned with a musical/technical aspect, rather than a dramatic approach that gives primacy to the words in the libretto. However, Vivaldi's highly technical style of writing for the voice never sounds like he's simply writing exercises based on scales and arpeggios, instead (aided by the gifted singers on this recording), the ornamentation, vocal lines and melodies are ear-catching, interesting and "snappy" in a way that one might compare to a well-constructed line in a jazz solo! The orchestration is similarly varied: just listening to the string parts, which are usually only a harmonic cushion or rhythmic accompaniment, provides different contrasts of texture or interactions with the singer(s) throughout the opera. This is Baroque-era string writing of a very high nature, imaginative tecnically, harmoically and orchestrally.
Aside from the compostion of the piece, the interpretation and playing of the singers/orchestra provide further interest and musically delightful results. In my opinion the best of the singers is the contralto who sings Damira, the sultan's mistress (sorry, I'm at work and don't have liner notes with me). She has the hardest music, and sings all of it with intense emotion.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic music, constantly inventive and surprising Nov. 24 2003
By M. Figg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I'm a huge fan of Vivaldi (instrumental and vocal music), and I just purchased this set and was overwhelmed by the variety and energy of the music. Most criticisms of Vivaldi center on a supposed sameness to his compostions, however this opera unveils aria after aria filled with interesting and surprising vocal parts and orchestration.
To be fair to potential listeners, this is not a very "natural" style of singing that one might find in Verdi or other Romantic-era composers; this is "Baroque" in a very literal sense of that word: the singing is very technical, elaborate and more concerned with a musical/technical aspect, rather than a dramatic approach that gives primacy to the words in the libretto. However, Vivaldi's highly technical style of writing for the voice never sounds like he's simply writing exercises based on scales and arpeggios, instead (aided by the gifted singers on this recording), the ornamentation, vocal lines and melodies are ear-catching, interesting and "snappy" in a way that one might compare to a well-constructed line in a jazz solo! The orchestration is similarly varied: just listening to the string parts, which are usually only a harmonic cushion or rhythmic accompaniment, provides different contrasts of texture or interactions with the singer(s) throughout the opera. This is Baroque-era string writing of a very high nature, imaginative tecnically, harmoically and orchestrally.
Aside from the compostion of the piece, the interpretation and playing of the singers/orchestra provide further interest and musically delightful results. In my opinion the best of the singers is the contralto who sings Damira, the sultan's mistress (sorry, I'm at work and don't have liner notes with me). She has the hardest music, and sings all of it with intense emotion. She doesn't exactly "nail" every note with precision, but the effect she creates and the feelings she conveys are dead-on. Sara Mingardo is the other contralto on this set, and a personal favorite of mine. As the supposedly legitimate son Melindo, she sings some highly ornate, furious arias, and while she sounds better on other recordings (Opus 111's "L'Olimpiade" for one), her singing is still of a high caliber. The counter-tenor who plays the supposedly illegitimate son Selim is amazing! His voice is like a piercing spotlight with great attack and a truly unique timbre; as far as counter-tenors, it's a vast improvement over the usually effeminate, nasal types recording so often. Both sopranos sing well, especially the flighy, coquettish part of Roxanne. Finally Anthony Johnson as the Sultan Mamud should get applause for even going near the material he has to sing. It is incredibly difficult music, and if he sounds as though he's straining at times, it really doesn't take anything away from the performace. Sometimes it's nice to know that a musician is actually working at what he's doing.
The conducting and orchestra provide the final touches to round off a completely satisfying and invigorating set of music. The sound of the strings, throughout Vivaldi's myraid orchestral voicings, is always impressive. The orchestra can be smooth, warm, icy, piercing, percussive, as the score requires, while always maintaining the fast, fleet passagework that comes up in Vivaldi's instrumental works as well as his operas. (A special treat is the work of the double-bass player: it might seem odd to point out this particular player/instrument, but I thinks he plays with a realy rhythmic flair, as his bass notes pop out and seem to boot the orchestra in just the right places.) Even the recitatives, which can be boring or bland, are engaging, as the singers' beautiful voices couple with a sensitive, lush continuo to provide results which are musically rewarding.
A distinguished work full of surprises, provided by exciting performers.
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More fun than a Barrel full of Puppies! Jan. 23 2005
By Chris Protopapas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This recording is a blast! Maybe if this was a well-known opera that had been recorded 25 times before, Spinosi would not have dared to perform it this way, but who cares? It's tremendously exciting, in the way that we have come to expect from some early-music groups such as Il Giardino Armonico. Who's to say that Baroque musicians did not play with dynamics and accents to give the music life?

This is Punk-Rock Vivaldi, more fun than being thrown into a barrel full of puppies.

Enjoy!
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Viva Vivaldi Nov. 9 2004
By Webster Forrest - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Vivaldi is a truly inspired master but I am afraid he falls a little short of the mark here. Do not expect a dramatic work of the quality of a 'L'Olimpiade' or 'Il Giustino'. What we do have is a thrilling, if somewhat questionable, performance by a conductor who reads more into a score which, to me, at times comes across as uninspired. For me the balance between the orchestra and the singers is often out and the dynamics and accents are at times exaggerated.

The singers are well cast for their roles. Bertagnolli as Rossane has a beautiful voice and technique, but resorts to a vibratoless sounds that at times causes confusion between her and the high counter-tenor. Mingardo as Melindo sings with a very muffled sound, but at the same time sings with great inspiration and attention. The counter-tenor, Jourrousky as Zelim shows great promise and I hope to hear a lot more of him.

Laurens as Rustena sings her music most beautifully. However, for me, the true stars of the show are Stutzmann and Rolfe Johnson. Stutzmann makes the most, and then some more, of her almost harridan-like character Damira. Her music, even when at times tritely set by Vivaldi, turns into a gala event. I just wish that the role of Mamud (Rolfe Johnson's part) had been more elaborately composed.

There are so many beautiful, if undramatic, moments in this score. Would I buy this recording again? Yes! Do I like this opera as a piece of art? Yes! So, if Opus 111 continues in this vein I think we are Looking ahead to many more treats.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Vivaldi June 22 2009
By Bruce Bogin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I will not write a long review since everything has been well said particularly by Mr. Sammut. My advice to those considering whether to purchase this work is to pay attention to the five star reviews and to ignore the others. This is outstanding dramatic Vivaldi with an unbeatable cast---Mingardo, Bertagnolli, Laurens, Stutzmann, Jaroussky and Johnson. You simply will not find better. If you love Baroque, buy this work.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A calm opera, but so much intense. July 16 2011
By Felipe de Moraes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
La Verità in Cimento is a Vivaldi's rare opera. I like very much the musical ambiance that this recording pass to us. It's different that the other vivaldian operas, that are more sonorously intense. The ambience remains in lower expressive tones. Like the name of the opera suggests: the truth in chalenge. Not all things can be said out loud. This interpretation is unique (including recording), and is in charge of Ensemble Matheus, directed by Jean-Christophe Spinosi, a director of catharstic modes and movements for the musicians, but draws exactly what he wants from his orchestra and singers. With lovely and sentimentaly intense arias, the story conducts us to secret ways that conduct us to the truth and to a subtle and unexpected final. Like almost all Baroque and Classical operas, has a happy ending. I recommend this album, even as it is the only complete recording of La Verità in Cimento.
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