Did it take the 80s, the 90s, or the new millenium to stop the "Bonynge Bashing"? When I think of the amount of work and inventiveness this man has given the world, (granted, much of it tailored to his wife's miracle of a voice) it makes me wonder why the erudition mongers, the MENSAS of Music ripped him a new one every chance they got.
Many ranted that he rode La Stupenda's train, but we are some distance away now and perhaps we've come to realize that it could also have been the other way round. I'm certain both he and his wife would have had brilliant careers with or without the other, but they never had to test that; Thank God. Mr. Bonynge's work here (without Dame Joan) is a marvelous example of his brilliance as conductor and dramaturge.
I have two versions of this opera, the Naxos, and the Dynamic versions. The Dynamic "full-score" Semiramide is good, worth hearing once or twice and is probably perfect for musicologists. The Dynamic version, however, (an example of all notes writ) should sit on a library shelf somewhere as a reference. Though well done, it becomes tiresome at the end.
This version, the Naxos, is never tiresome. Bonynge captures the era. He cuts tastefully, where necessary; he's given wonderful talent here (particularly, Olga Peretyatko as Tamiri) and creates a marvelous work for the theatre. One is charmed and delighted by his masterful choices throughout. Bonynge's sense of the early 19th century, his genius for conveying its drama, heart and theatrical cohesiveness is ever-present. You can't help but feel you are there, Turin, 1819. I listen to this often. It's transporting. Bravo,Bonynge!
This Semiramide comes with only a synopsis and a bit of history - no libretto. But, it is one of the best bargains the market has to offer; It's very affordable. The Dynamic version does come with libretto.
One more thing: Both are live performances, but the Dynamic will make you wince at times from the crashing, booming set changes that are heard full-out on-mic.