- Audio CD (Jan. 6 2017)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Glossa
- ASIN: B01MTVHFJG
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #79,848 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Francesca Caccini: La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola di Alcina
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With this production of Francesca Caccini’s La liberazione di Ruggerio dall'isola di Alcina, directed by Elena Sartori, an important stepping-stone in the development of seventeenth-century opera receives a superb new recording from Glossa. For much of her career - Caccini was a composer, a virtuoso singer, a teacher, a poet and a multi- instrumentalist - she worked at the Medici court, and was commissioned by the grand duchess of Tuscany, Maria Maddalena of Austria, to write this commedia in musica for performance in Florence in 1625. Very probably this was the first opera composed by a woman, and its performance in Warsaw in 1628 stands as the first documented Italian opera known to have been staged outside the peninsula. Caccini’s score, evoking not just the music of her father Giulio but that of Jacopo Peri and of the Monteverdi of Venice, is full of musical diversity and originality. The libretto of La liberazione (by Ferdinando Saracinelli, working from Ludovico Ariosto’s epic Orlando furioso) portrays the struggle between two sorceresses - one ‘good’, Melissa, the other ‘evil’, Alcina - over the young knight Ruggiero, who has been bewitched by Alcina. The singers recorded here for these roles are Gabriella Martellacci, Elena Biscuola and Mauro Borgioni, whilst other roles - in a score packed with vocal opportunities - are taken by Emanuela Galli, Francesca Lombardi Mazzulli and Raffaele Giordani. Elena Sartori, who directs the ensembles Allabastrina and La Pifarescha, also contributes an illuminating booklet essay placing Francesca Caccini in her musical and biographical context.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
As is often the case in Italian mythology, the love-rat is portrayed as the hero of the tale. However, such morally dubious details can easily be overlooked in favour of the obligatory presence here of the usual intricacies of baroque operatic love including joy, misery, falsehood, betrayal, desire, guilt and revenge. Characters include Ruggiero, Alcina, Melissa, Neptune and other water-gods, maidens, a shepherd and a siren - many of these roles giving ample opportunities for fine, expressive singing by a wide range of solo and ensemble voices. They are accompanied by the players of the period instrument ensembles Allabastrina and La Pifarescha, combining to form a very effective baroque band of string and wind instruments and basso continuo. The entire team is directed in superb style by harpsichordist Elena Sartori, demonstrating once again the depth of well-informed talent which nowadays graces the Italian early music scene.
The music itself moves from recitative through arioso to aria, with the occasional short instrumental sinfonia or dance movement. While this work lacks the memorable melodies we would expect from the likes of Monteverdi or Cavalli, the music is never dull for a moment. Everything is most beautifully sung and played, with recitative sections moving along very nicely indeed – again with the help of fine singing and inventive instrumental support. The wind instruments also enhance their passages, including the choruses, with superb ornamentation. All the solo voices are first-class, with especially outstanding interpretations from contralto Gabriella Martellacci as Melissa, baritone Mauro Borgioni as Ruggiero, and tenor Raffaele Giordani as Neptune and a shepherd. The vocal ensemble passages, with up to five interwoven voices, are also beautiful.
Booklet notes by Elena Sartori are first-class, including a very useful synopsis as well as libretto and translation. Recorded sound is also excellent. Francesca Caccini's opera is perhaps more of a curiosity than a masterpiece, but this performance is so stylish and well-considered, and the musicianship so very fine, as to make this single-disc opera recording a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable experience.