- Performer: Christie; Upshaw; Daniels; Hunt; Olsen; Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
- Conductor: William Christie
- Composer: Handel Georg Frideric
- Audio CD (May 29 2012)
- Number of Discs: 3
- Format: Import
- Label: Gly
- ASIN: B007N0SV06
- In-Print Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
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Here for the first time on CD is Glyndebourne's acclaimed 1996 production of Handel's oratorio Theodora. Although Theodora is a story of a virtuous woman and sexual persecution, this has not proved to be an obstacle to its enduring success, the subject a deeply touching one, resonating from the age of antiquity to the present day. The recording is the debut on the Glyndebourne label for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, one of Glyndebourne's two resident orchestras. This audio release, in no way detracting from the extraordinary Peter Sellar's production, allows the focus to be on the soloists, conductor and orchestra. This recording confirms Lorraine Hunt as a true Handelian, capturing the spirit of Irene as few others could. In counter-tenor David Daniels as Didymus, there is a breadth of range drawing the listener away from the oft strained and forced falsetto sound. From the outset Dawn Upshaw is a heartfelt Theodora culminating magnificently in her final duet with Daniels `Thither let our hearts aspire.' the delivery, sensitivity and ensemble nothing short of numbing. There is no better choice of debut release from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on the Glyndebourne label, William Christie's musical approach one of transcendence, making the most of this wonderful music. Great opera performances are often fleeting moments in time but since 1960, every note of every Glyndebourne Festival performance has been recorded. `Eaves-dropping' on these live performances allows some of the most seminal opera performances of the last fifty years to be enjoyed by all. `.Musically and dramatically this production is flawless.' Andrew Clements, The Guardian
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Much of the music in Part I is interrupted by hooting and cheering from the chorus. Frode Olsen, an otherwise a terrific Valens, is made to perform the recitative "Ye men of Antioch" as a drunken boor. For some reason Sellars thought he could play this work for laughs, and he nearly ruins it - even on CD! Thankfully, Christie reasserts himself in Parts II and III, and some truly sublime music results.
Is this recording worth hearing? Absolutely. Worth owning? Probably, despite its faults. But is it a first choice? With both Paul McCreesh's and Christie's excellent studio recordings of this masterwork currently available, I'd have to say no.
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fabulous. in baroque music no note is more important than any other. everything is clearly understood
Handel's Giulio Cesare, to be done in the Met Opera HD series on April 27, 2013, is another I will purchase when available.
It is interesting to know that in Handel's time, his work was performed in a lighted space, and the audience was provided with the libretto in order to understand the narrative. The American Repertory Theatre performed one of his works in Cambridge, MA, probably in the 1980's, with lights and lebretti (?) and it was lovely.
The two recordings, are available from Amazon at good prices and arrived promptly.