on December 1, 2000
Mitridate was composed by the teenage Mozart to the set libretto of an opera seria -- and not really a very good libretto. The result is a series of recitatives followed by arias as specified by the usual formula. It is varied only by having a lengthy duet at the end of act two and a shorter quintet at the end of the final act. Generally speaking, the music is brilliant without being profound. It probably isn't possible to breath much life into the drama; what is possible is to provide a brilliant and varied series of arias. This the production under consideration provides brilliantly.
The star of this production is Natalie Dessay, who again demonstrates her ability to steal the show through stunningly brilliant singing and a marvelous voice. Her performance is equaled in technical virtuosity and quality of voice (but not surpassed) by Cecilia Bartoli, though her role lies in spots uncomfortably high for that wondrous instrument. The highlight of the production is the duet mentioned earlier which involves these two performers. Sandrine Piau in a smaller role provides singing of almost equal stature. Brian Asawa, in the role of Mitridate's traitorous older son, provides an amazing display of technique and agility, but he hardly sounds convincing. He actually sounds more like a drag queen with full command of falsetto than like a man - or a woman. Giuseppe Sabbatini I found to be the only disappointment, singing the title role adequately but with a rather unlovely tone.
The period-instrument orchestra performs brilliantly. However, I found that Christophe Rousset let the recitatives drag badly, while some of the arias, especially Bartoli's, were rushed. She can handle the pace without problem - her clearly articulated fioriture has to be heard to be believed -- but she has no way to plumb the musical depths of these brilliantly conceived show-pieces when the pace is so rushed.
All together, an excellent set!
on July 2, 2000
This is a very fine recording of Mozart's first opera. To be honest, although there are some wonderful moments the score bears only a passing resemblance to the composer's best work. But when it is good - such as the duet that ends act 2 - it is very, very good. And in this set even the duller parts make for agreeable listening. Rousset gives a really spirited reading and Les Talens Lyriques don't let him down. The cast are absolutely top notch. Cecilia Bartoli has a job on her hands to sind what is in fact a soprano role as Sifare, but she manages with honour and sings her recitatives with wonderful pungency. Natalie Dessay brings mind-boggling fireworks and dramatic urgency as Aspasia, and Brian Asawa, though sounding surprisingly womanly, is appropriately creepy as villan Farnace (until he turns good in Act 3). Giuseppe Sabbatini is surprisingly cast in the title role with a bigger voice than I would have expected. He is tested to the limit by the hideous tessitura of the role but he gets through it - no mean feat - and is a much more exciting vocal presence than other, more authentically "classical" singers would have been. Sandrine Piau sings beautifully as Ismene - it's a shame she isn't photographed in the accomanyhing booklet, as it's nice to put faces to voices. A must for die-hard Mozartians or die-hard fans of the principal singers (thy will not disappoint) and highly recommended for curious Mozartophiles.
on October 11, 2003
Si busca un buen Mitridate no lo dude, este es el mejor. Si busca disfrutar de una voces bellísimas, con coloraturas prodigiosas enfrentandose a endiabladas arias: compre este disco. Este disco es una delicia desde todos los puntos de vista, con un cast del que no se sabe si elogiar más a NATALIE DESSAY (Aspasia con sobreagudos atronadores), CECILIA BARTOLI (que presta su extraordinaria sensibilidad a Sifare) BRIAN ASAWA (contratenor de voz muy femenina que interpreta a Farnace) o esos dos lujazos de secundarios que son SANDRINE PIAU (deliciosa Ismene) y JUAN DIEGO FLÓREZ (Marzio de lujo). El Mitridate de GIUSEPPE SABBATINI, menos elogiable, aunque muy notable une a una tecnica interesante una voz no especialmente bella.
LES TALENTS LYRIQUES suenan como una de las mejores agrupaciones barrocas del momento, al mando del atento CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET.
Definitivamente, una grabacion indispensable para cualquier amante de la musica clasica.
on December 21, 1999
Voilà un enregistrement indispensable si on prétend aimer Mozart. Il n'est pas parfait (Brian Azawa, en particulier, est terriblement endormi), mais l'oeuvre est absolument passionnante, pleine de fougue. A 14 ans, Mozart se montre un compositeur expérimenté, visiblement passionné par le sujet et soucieux de faire de chaque air l'expression brûlante de la pssion de chaque personnage. Christophe Rousset, aidé par la remarquable claveciniste Emmanuelle Haim, est un merveilleux guide pour découvrir ce continent trop peu connu de l'art du 18e siècle.
on December 16, 2000
A must have in your opera-collection. Great voices, timing and recording. It fits in the line Idomeneo (Bartoli, Domingo: DGG-edition) Gardiner Nozze di Figaro, Zauberflöte an Don Giovanni. That is all there can be said, more words would be a diminishment.