Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Nabucco in Novi Sad

After the horrors of Jagoš Marković’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro in Belgrade, I was apprehensive lest Nabucco in Serbia’s second city of Novi Sad on 27th October would be transplanted from 6th century BC Babylon to post-Saddam Hussein Tikrit or some bombed-out kibbutz in Beersheba.

La Bohème in San Francisco

First Toronto, then Houston and now San Francisco, the third stop of a new production of Puccini's La bohème by Canadian born, British nurtured theater director John Caird.

Radvanovsky Sings Recital in Los Angeles

Every once in a while Los Angeles Opera presents an important recital in the three thousand seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

L’elisir d’amore, Royal Opera

This third revival of Laurent Pelly’s production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore needed a bit of a pep up to get moving but once it had been given a shot of ‘medicinal’ tincture things spiced up nicely.

Samling Showcase, Wigmore Hall

Founded in 1996, Samling describes itself as a charity which ‘inspires musical excellence in young people’.

La cenerentola in San Francisco

The good news is that you don’t have to go all the way to Pesaro for great Rossini.

Rameau: Maître à danser — William Christie, Barbican London

Maître à danser: William Christie and Les Arts Florissants at the Barbican, London, presented a defining moment in Rameau performance practice, choreographed with a team of dancers.

Le Nozze di Figaro — or Sex on the Beach?

The most memorable thing (and definitely not in a good way) about this performance of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Serbian National Theatre in Belgrade was the self-serving, infantile, offensive and just plain wrong production by celebrated Serbian theatre director Jagoš Marković.

The Met mounts a well sung but dramatically unconvincing ‘Carmen’

Should looks matter when casting the role of the iconic temptress for HD simulcast?

Maurice Greene’s Jephtha

Maurice Greene (1696-1755) had a highly successful musical career. Organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral, a position to which he was elected when he was just 22 years-old, he later became organist of the Chapel Royal, Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge and, from 1735, Master of the King’s Music.

Tosca in San Francisco

Yet another Tosca is hardly exciting news, if news at all. The current five performances have come just two years after SFO alternated divas Angela Gheorghiu and Patricia Racette in the title role.

Antonin Dvořák: The Cunning Peasant (Šelma Sedlák)

What an enjoyable opportunity to encounter Dvořák’s sixth opera, Šelma Sedlák¸or The Cunning Peasant!

Idomeneo, Royal Opera

Whether biblical parable or mythological moralising, it’s all the same really: human hubris, humility, sacrifice and redemption.

Donizetti’s Les Martyrs — Opera Rara, London

Opera Rara brought a rare performance of Donizetti’s first opera for the Paris Opera to the Royal Festival Hall on 4 November 2014, following recording sessions for the opera.

Luca Pisaroni in San Diego

Bass baritone, Luca Pisaroni, known to opera lovers throughout the world for his excellence in Mozart roles, offered San Diego vocal aficionados a double treat on October 28th: his mellifluous voice, and a recital of German songs.

La bohème, ENO

Jonathan Miller’s production of La bohème for ENO, shared with Cincinnati Opera, sits uneasily, at least as revived by Natascha Metherell, between comedy and tragedy.

Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall - Liszt, Strauss and Schubert

Any Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau performance is superb, but this Wigmore Hall recital surprised, too. Boesch's Schubert is wonderful, but this time, it was his Liszt and Strauss songs which stood out. This year at the Wigmore Hall, we've heard a lot of Liszt and a lot of Richard Strauss everywhere, establishing high standards, but this was special.

Wexford Festival 2014

The weather was auspicious for Wexford Festival Opera’s first-night firework display — mild, clear and calm. But, as the rainbow rockets exploded over the River Slaney, even bigger bangs were being made down at the quayside.

The Met’s ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’ a happy marriage of ensemble singing and acting

The cast of supporting roles was especially strong in the company’s new production of Mozart’s matchless masterpiece

Syracuse Opera’s ‘Die Fledermaus’ bubbles over with fun, laughter and irresistible music

The company uncorks its 40th Anniversary season with a visually and musically satisfying production of Johann Strauss Jr.’s farcical operetta

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Antonio Vivaldi: La fida ninfa
03 Aug 2009

Vivaldi: La fida ninfa

Although Antonio Vivaldi’s instrumental compositions were highly popular in his lifetime, and have been held in high regard throughout the centuries, most of his operas have been — until recently — relegated to obscurity.

Antonio Vivaldi: La fida ninfa

Piau, Cangemi, Lemieux, Mingardo; Jaroussky, Lehtipuu, Regazzo, Senn. Ensemble Matheus. Directed by Jean-Christophe Spinosi.

Naïve OP 39210 [3 CDs]

$30.49  Click to buy

This sad state of affairs is being rectified by the wonderful new series of opera recordings available through the Naïve label, part of its larger Vivaldi Edition project. Naïve’s most recent offering in this series is a concert production of La fida ninfa, a work which was premiered at the opening of Verona’s Teatro Filarmonico in January of 1732. One of the organizers of the event was the librettist, Francesco Scipione, Marquis di Maffei. Scipione was a Jesuit-educated aristocrat who specialized in Etruscology, dramatic theory, and classical philology — but still managed to find time to participate in the War of the Spanish Succession and, in his later years, write a famous theological tract attacking Jansenist doctrines. The poet’s most famous literary effort was undoubtedly his dramma, Merope, a work which served as one of the models for Voltaire’s tragedy of the same name. Unfortunately Scipione’s libretto for La fida Ninfa, an allegory on matrimonial love replete with love-struck nymphs, grumpy pirates, and multiple cases of mistaken identity, is less distinguished. While it is a credit to the composer that he was still able to create an impressive work from this clichéd literary material, the lack of a convincing plot line weakens the overall impact of the opera.

More significant for modern listeners, however, is the fact that La fida ninfa betrays the influences of the new musical style which manifested itself most powerfully a year later in the work of Pergolesi — La serva padrona. This new approach can be heard immediately in the overture of Vivaldi’s work, which features short, repeated melodic motifs, a decidedly homophonic texture, and the spare harmonic palette more typical of the mid-century style than the high baroque. This impression is only strengthened in the many beautiful solo arias and duets of the opera, where there is an unmistakable emphasis on simplicity and clarity of formal structures. Also indicative of this new style are the ensemble numbers which end each of the three acts: the remarkably beautiful trio finale of Act I (“S’egli è ver”), the quartet which concludes Act II (“Così fu gl’occhi miei?”), and the duet/choral conclusion of Act III (“Non temer”) sound much less like Vivaldi than they do Pergolesi or even Mozart.

Musical highlights of this recording include the restrained virtuosity of Verónica Cangemi as Morasto (her interpretation of the Act I aria “Dolce fiamma” is particularly fine), and the musicality of Topi Lehtipuu (Narete), who brings a relaxed and confident tone to all his solo arias. Vivaldi lovers will especially enjoy Narete’s beautiful lament (“Deh ti piega”) in Act II, where the very able conductor, Jean-Christophe Spinosi, creates an astonishingly sensitive interplay between the tenor and the orchestra. Lorenzo Regazzo is highly effective in his near-buffo role as Oralto, the spurned and highly irritable pirate, and Sandrine Piau portrays Licori, the faithful nymph, with great sensitivity and an impressive command baroque vocal technique. While there is no shortage of vocal fireworks in this recording (Cangemi’s virtuoso performance of “Destino avaro” in Act II verges on the unbelievable) the pastoral moments of La fida ninfa seem the most memorable: the haunting duets “Dimmi pastore” (Act I) between Philippe Jaroussky (Osmino) and Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Elpina) and “Pan, ch’ognun venera” between Lehtipuu and Jaroussky in Act III are spectacular. It is in these less hurried sections of the opera that Spinosi’s orchestra displays its wonderful musicality and attention to detail which are the hallmarks of the Vivaldi recordings of the Ensemble Matheus.

La fida ninfa is not one of Vivaldi’s better efforts. The music for the finale, which features a dialogue between Juno and Aeolus (competently sung by Sara Mingardo and Christian Senn), is artificial and uninspired. Even the Tempesta di mare which precedes the last scene is a disappointment (through no fault of the orchestra) and does not measure up to similar moments Vivaldi’s Seasons, for example. The fact that this opera was composed in great haste (Vivaldi was not even the first choice of the organizers of the theatre opening, having replaced their preferred composer, Giuseppe Maria Orlandini, at the last moment) is sadly apparent in some of the music. Even so, the Ensemble Matheus’ fine performance of this work is remarkable, and more than compensates for the occasional weaknesses of the composition and blandness of Scipione’s libretto.

Donald R. Boomgaarden
Dean, College of Music and Fine Arts
Loyola University New Orleans

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):