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Opera Baroque

Release Date: 09/17/2013 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 2908658  
Composer:  Claudio MonteverdiPier Francesco CavalliAlessandro ScarlattiJean-Baptiste Lully,   ... 
Performer:  Graciela OddoneSimon KeenlysideJuanita LascarroMartina Dike,   ... 
Conductor:  René JacobsWilliam Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium VocaleConcerto VocaleAcademy for Ancient Music Berlin,   ... 
Number of Discs: 42 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This luxurious set containing 39 CDs, 3 DVDs, 1 CD-ROM, and four detailed booklets will tell you the full story of Baroque opera in Italy, France, England, and Germany. No fewer than 17 complete operas (including two on DVD) and two supplementary CDs (The Dawn of Opera and Overtures for the Hamburg Opera) provide the most comprehensive overview of the genre ever attempted! The finest performers are assembled here under the direction of René Jacobs and William Christie to offer you 47 hours of music and an opportunity to discover or to hear again the masterpieces of Baroque opera, some of which have been unavailable on CD for many years. Full texts and translations are included as PDFs on a supplementary CD.


"It is clear right from the start, with the almost aggressive snarling brass and thudding drums of the opening Toccata, that Rene Jacobs's reading of L'Orfeo is a full-blooded one. The tone is set almost immediately by Efrat Ben-Nun, whose approach to the two roles that she sings is refreshingly direct and dramatic... In Laurence Dale, Jacobs has found a powerful protagonist, a singer capable of negotiating the sudden changes of emotional state that characterize the part at some at its most critical moments with conviction. More to the point, "Possente spirto" itself, the spiritual and literal centre of the opera, is something of a tour de force, conveying the central conception of the power of song with true rhetorical understanding. This is a version of L'Orfeo to be reckoned with." -- Gramophone [12/1995] reviewing HM 901553

L'Incoronazione di Poppea
"Jacobs has for long specialized in baroque music and has previously been involved with a number of recordings of other early Venetian operas. It is this experience which leads him to believe that while the original manuscripts contain the 'essential' features of the work, they must be augmented in two ways; firstly, by extending the use of the central string ensemble beyond ritornellos and sinfonias, and secondly by adding three-part melodic elaborations (accompagnati) at strategic moments. In practice this places his version somewhere between the absolute purity of the Hickox (where the vocal lines are supported throughout only by a basso continuo) and Zedda's colourful fantasia upon the composer's original score... Right from the start Danielle Borst's Poppea is richly seductive, and the part of Nerone is given a wildly impetuous reading by Guillemette Laurens; by the fifth scene of Act I these principal characters have been graphically delineated, the oppositions set up and the seeds of tragedy sown in a highly convincing way." -- Gramophone [4/1991] reviewing HM 901330


"When this was first released in 1995, I thought it was the finest recording of a Baroque opera I'd ever heard. Since then there have been many others as good, but this one remains positively superb, making the case for an otherwise unknown work, bringing to the fore all of its colors, wit, bawdiness, and complications... [Maria Bayo's] pure, vibrato-free sound is right on the money and she gets inside the innocent but seducible character with great ingenuity... René Jacobs and his band turn this into a great, sharp drama, beautiful to listen to and endlessly appealing. Don't miss it--it's a great work and this is a great performance." -- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com reviewing HM 2901515


"Jacobs' cast is ideal. Dorothea Röschmann's Griselda is always noble, purposefully belying this character's humble origins... Lawrence Zazzo walks a tightrope as Gualtiero: On one hand he must seem shallow, conniving, cynical, cruel, and insensitive; but in his asides--of which there are many--he must convince us of his inherent goodness, and he does. His countertenor is an unusually firm instrument and he uses it remarkably... Mezzo Bernarda Fink (where would Baroque opera be without her?) excels in the more one-dimensional trouser role of Roberto... this is as great a performance of it as we're bound to hear." -- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com reviewing HM 901805

Dido and Aeneas
"My preference for a strong yet sympathetically portrayed Dido, a dynamic yet sensitive Belinda, a full-bodied period-instrument orchestra, and an articulate, intuitive, sensitive partnership between singers and continuo--all managed with judiciously paced direction that lets the singers sing and never becomes ponderous--is almost perfectly realized in René Jacobs' new reading with Lynne Dawson and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Dawson's soprano has an endearing plaintive quality, especially in her fateful Act 3 music, and her Belinda, Rosemary Joshua, is a solid and supportive companion. This orchestra shows not only the kind of crispness and clarity of line and attack we expect from the better period instrument orchestras, but also a full, multi-colored sound that adds even more than usual luster to the score." -- David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com reviewing HM 901683

"If it's drama you're looking for, René Jacobs is your man. Attacks are almost vicious, the period instruments are thumped and wheedled and scratched when needed for emphasis. Extraneous noises--distant drums, wind, clatter, and those birds--abound, and the singers sing for dear life... Vivica Genaux is a vivid, involved hero, singing with great evenness, impressive tenderness in the yearning arias, and no fear of Handel's fiercer music..." -- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com reviewing HM 901796

"[Jeffrey Gall] captures just the right edge of petulance for the character, while the more leading countertenor role, Guido (the Senesino part), is sung by Derek Lee Ragin, whose somewhat fiercer tone is fascinating and whose flexibility is remarkable... René Jacobs leads Ensemble 415 in a performance that equally captures the score's lightness and gravity without ever throwing the balance off. That is, he makes sense of the complications. In a word, this is wonderful." -- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com reviewing HM 2901312

Giulio Cesare
"[Jennifer Larmore's] voice is as solid as a rock, her coloratura is staggering in its accuracy, and the dark, masculine sound she effects for the role is uncannily right. She can be aggressive, she can be love-smitten. In the accompanied recitative when she contemplates Pompey's ashes, her depth of feeling is palpable, her soul troubled. It's a great performance. The smaller roles are equally well-taken, with Derek Lee Ragin's effete-yet-dangerous Ptolomy particularly striking. In short, while Beverly Sills' Cleopatra is an unequalled treasure, Jacobs' cast and interpretive outlook turn the opera into the drama it should be, and no one who cares about Baroque opera should do without this set." -- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com reviewing HM 901385

Cesare e Cleopatra
"Iris Vermillion is spectacular, and elsewhere in the opera she's as heroic, romantic, and colorful as our hero ought to be... René Jacobs clearly believes in this music and his Concerto Köln plays splendidly, embellishing the instrumental lines with vigor. If this opera lacks the probing of Handel's, so what? It's a joy to hear, and this performance is excellent." -- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com reviewing HM 2901561


"The performance is the thing, and whatever this is, it's goregously performed and gripping from the first to the last second of its entire three-hour span. Roman Trekel's Croesus is believable without being dislikeable, and his bickering with Kwangchul Youn as Solon is vivid. Once Werner Güra as Atis begins to sing you wish he'd been able in Act 1; his is a wonderful tenor, with plenty of spice and technique to spare. The same might be said of Dorothea Röschmann's Elmira--the character is invariably in some sort of ferocious mood and Röschmann is spectacular. The rest of the soloists are just as good, and the comic characters add zest. This is one-of-a-kind but more than a rarity: It's a great work, ideally performed. One Grammy coming up!" -- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com reviewing HM 901714

Venus and Adonis
"Rene Jacobs surrounds himself with many fine singers here, all of whom he marshals in lively and responsive performances. Rosemary Joshua is an irresistible Venus, who wastes not a word either in colourful representation or vocal suppleness, and Gerald Finlay’s reflective longing accords with Jacobs’s elegant and full-flavoured direction." -- Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Gramophone reviewing HM 901684 Read less

Works on This Recording

L'Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi
Performer:  Graciela Oddone (Soprano), Simon Keenlyside (Baritone), Juanita Lascarro (Soprano),
Martina Dike (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  René Jacobs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale,  Concerto Vocale
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1607; Mantua, Italy 
L'Incoronazione di Poppea by Claudio Monteverdi
Performer:  Christoph Homberger (Tenor), Dominique Visse (Countertenor), Lena Lootens (Soprano),
Michael Schopper (Bass), Axel Köhler (Countertenor), Danielle Borst (Soprano),
Jennifer Larmore (Mezzo Soprano), Guillemette Laurens (Mezzo Soprano), Guy de Mey (Tenor),
Martina Bovet (Soprano)
Conductor:  René Jacobs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Vocale
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1642; Venice, Italy 
Calisto by Pier Francesco Cavalli
Performer:  Simon Keenlyside (Baritone), Graham Pushee (Countertenor), Allesandra Mantovani (Soprano),
Sonia Theodoridou (Soprano), Gilles Ragon (Tenor), Barry Banks (Tenor),
David Pittsinger (Bass), Judith Vindevogel (Soprano), Marcello Lippi (Baritone),
Maria Bayo (Soprano), Dominique Visse (Countertenor)
Conductor:  René Jacobs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concerto Vocale
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1652; Italy 
La Griselda by Alessandro Scarlatti
Performer:  Lawrence Zazzo (Countertenor), Veronica Cangemi (Soprano), Dorothea Röschmann (Soprano),
Silvia Tro Santafe (Mezzo Soprano), Kobie van Rensburg (Tenor), Bernarda Fink (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  René Jacobs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy for Ancient Music Berlin
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1721; Rome, Italy 
Atys, LWV 53 by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Performer:  Guy de Mey (Tenor), Guillemette Laurens (Mezzo Soprano), Agnès Mellon (Soprano),
Jean-Francois Gardeil (Baritone)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1676; France 
Idoménée by André Campra
Performer:  Marie Boyer (Mezzo Soprano), Jérôme Corréas (Bass), Richard Dugay (Tenor),
Marie Saint-Palais (Soprano), Anne Pichard (Soprano), Anne Mopin (Soprano),
Jean-Claude Saragosse (Bass), Jérôme Corréas (Baritone), Jean-Paul Fouchécourt (Tenor),
Monique Zanetti (Soprano), Sandrine Piau (Soprano), Bernard Delétré (Bass)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1712; France 
Les Indes galantes by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Claron McFadden (Soprano), Isabelle Poulenard (Soprano), Howard Crook (Tenor),
Jean-Paul Fouchécourt (Tenor), Bernard Delétré (Bass), Nicolas Rivenq (Baritone),
Jérôme Corréas (Baritone), Miriam Ruggeri (Soprano), Noémi Rime (Soprano),
Sandrine Piau (Soprano)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1735/1761; France 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Length: 193 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Language: French 
Médée, H 491 by Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Performer:  Gilles Ragon (Tenor), Agnès Mellon (Soprano), Jacques Bona (Bass),
Sophie Boulin (Soprano), Philippe Cantor (Bass), Jill Feldman (Soprano)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1693; France 
Length: 170 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Language: French 
Le malade imaginaire, H 495 by Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Performer:  Jean-Francois Gardeil (Baritone), Dominique Visse (Countertenor), Howard Crook (Tenor),
Jérôme Corréas (Bass), Alain Trétout (Spoken Vocals), Isabelle Desrochers (Soprano),
Noémi Rime (Soprano), Monique Zanetti (Soprano), William Christie (Spoken Vocals),
Howard Crook (Spoken Vocals), Claire Brua (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1672-1673; France 
Dido and Aeneas, Z 626 by Henry Purcell
Performer:  Gerald Finley (Baritone), Lynne Dawson (Soprano), Gerald Finley (Bass),
Maria Cristina Kiehr (Soprano), Rosemary Joshua (Soprano), Susan Bickley (Soprano),
Dominique Visse (Countertenor), Stephen Wallace (Countertenor), Robin Blaze (Countertenor),
John Bowen (Tenor)
Conductor:  René Jacobs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment,  Clare College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1689; England 
Rinaldo, HWV 7 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Vivica Genaux (Mezzo Soprano), Christophe Dumaux (Countertenor), James Rutherford (Baritone),
Miah Persson (Soprano), Lawrence Zazzo (Countertenor), Inga Kalna (Soprano),
Dominique Visse (Countertenor)
Conductor:  René Jacobs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1711; London, England 
Date of Recording: 08/2002 
Venue:  Live  Congress Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria 
Length: 193 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Flavio, Rè di Longobardi, HWV 16 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gian Paolo Fagotto (Tenor), Jeffrey Gall (Countertenor), Christina Högman (Soprano),
Lena Lootens (Soprano), Bernarda Fink (Mezzo Soprano), Ulrich Messthaler (Bass),
Derek Lee Ragin (Countertenor)
Conductor:  René Jacobs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble 415
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1723; London, England 
Date of Recording: 1989 
Length: 155 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Giulio Cesare, HWV 17 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Furio Zanasi (Bass), Jennifer Larmore (Mezzo soprano), Bernarda Fink (Contralto (Female alto)),
Marianne Rorholm (Contralto (Female alto)), Barbara Schlick (Soprano), Dominique Visse (Alto),
Derek Lee Ragin (Alto), Olivier Lallouette (Bass)
Conductor:  René Jacobs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Concerto Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724; London, England 
Date of Recording: Cologne Radio Studio 
Cesare e Cleopatra by Carl Heinrich Graun
Performer:  Iris Vermillion (Mezzo Soprano), Lynne Dawson (Soprano), Robert Gambill (Tenor),
Ralf Popken (Countertenor), Jeffrey Francis (Tenor), Klaus Häger (Baritone),
Elisabeth Scholl (Soprano), Janet Williams (Soprano), Maria Cristina Kiehr (Soprano)
Conductor:  René Jacobs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus,  Concerto Cologne
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1742; Berlin, Germany 
Length: 198 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Croesus by Reinhard Keiser
Performer:  Dorothea Röschmann (Soprano), Roman Trekel (Baritone), Johannes Mannov (Bass),
Werner Güra (Tenor), Klaus Häger (Bass), Markus Schäfer (Tenor),
Salome Haller (Soprano), Kwangchul Youn (Bass), Graham Pushee (Countertenor),
Brigitte Eisenfeld (Soprano), Kurt Azesberger (Tenor), Jörg Gottschick (Bass),
Johanna Stojkovic (Soprano)
Conductor:  René Jacobs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus,  Hanover Boys' Choir Members,  Academy for Ancient Music Berlin
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1710/1730; Germany 
Language: German 
Orpheus, TV 21 no 18 by Georg Philipp Telemann
Performer:  Ruth Ziesak (Soprano), Werner Güra (Tenor), Maria Cristina Kiehr (Soprano),
Isabelle Poulenard (Soprano), Axel Köhler (Countertenor), Hanno Müller-Brachmann (Bass Baritone),
Dorothea Röschmann (Soprano), Roman Trekel (Baritone)
Conductor:  René Jacobs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Chamber Chorus,  Academy for Ancient Music Berlin
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1726; Hamburg, Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/1996 
Venue:  Christuskirche, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 159 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Language: German 
Ludovicus Pius: Suite by Georg Caspar Schürmann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy for Ancient Music Berlin
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; Lüneburg, Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/2004 
Venue:  Teldex Studio, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 19 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Der lächerliche Prinz Jodelet: Overture by Reinhard Keiser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy for Ancient Music Berlin
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; Hamburg, Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/2004 
Venue:  Teldex Studio, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Almira, HWV 1: Suite by George Frideric Handel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy for Ancient Music Berlin
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1705; Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/2004 
Venue:  Teldex Studio, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 14 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Musikalische Concerte (12): Suite no 1 in A minor by Johann Schieferdecker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy for Ancient Music Berlin
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1713; Hamburg, Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/2004 
Venue:  Teldex Studio, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 11 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Ouvertures (6): Suite no 4 in D minor by Philipp Heinrich Erlebach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy for Ancient Music Berlin
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1693; Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/2004 
Venue:  Teldex Studio, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 16 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Venus and Adonis by John Blow
Performer:  Gerald Finley (Baritone), Robin Blaze (Countertenor), Maria Cristina Kiehr (Soprano),
Christopher Josey (Countertenor), Rosemary Joshua (Soprano), John Bowen (Tenor),
Jonathan Brown (Bass)
Conductor:  René Jacobs
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment,  Clare College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: ?1681; England 
Date of Recording: 10/1998 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 51 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: English 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  3 Customer Reviews )
 Some big winners here October 24, 2013 By Donald Bauder (Salida, CO) See All My Reviews "We are fans of Handel operas, having at least 20 on CD, and have some others by Alessandro Scarlatti, Monteverdi, etc. So we gave this a try. It is wonderful, including operas by composers we had never heard of -- Campra and Keiser. We haven't watched the DVDs yet. Don Bauder" Report Abuse
 Opera Baroque October 22, 2013 By R. J. Wesley (Baltimore, MD) See All My Reviews "Given as a gift to my favorite early music young artist. Therefore did not listen to it." Report Abuse
 Stunned by the Glory of Opera Baroque September 29, 2013 By Daniel B. (Lilydale, MN) See All My Reviews "Opera Baroque is the best boxed set I have ever purchased. I award it an unqualified 5 stars for the excellence of the packaging and the wonder of the performances. There are 17 complete operas representing composers of Italy (4), France (5), England (5) and Germany (3). Also, there is an introductory cd for each country with non-operatic music setting the musical stage, and a booklet with brief but insightful essays on each opera and its composer. Finally, there is CD-ROM with the libretto of every opera! Too often boxed sets include no translations, which I consider vital to the full appreciation of opera. Inevitably, like me, you will probably have several of these works; I have 6, but they are different recordings, and I am enjoying hearing alternative performances of L'Orfeo, La Callisto, Atys, etc. Besides, this set is a wonderful library of baroque splendors, with an admirable integrity of performances and presentation. I am extremely proud of this acquisition. So will you!" Report Abuse
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