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Handel: Rinaldo / John Fisher, Et Al

Release Date: 02/10/2009 
Label:  Nuova Era   Catalog #: 232468   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Cosetta TosettiFabio TartariChristine WeidingerCecilia Gasdia,   ... 
Conductor:  John Fisher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Venice Teatro la Fenice OrchestraVenice Teatro la Fenice Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

HANDEL Rinaldo John Fisher, cond; Marilyn Horne ( Rinaldo ); Cecilia Gasdia ( Almirena ); Christine Weidinger ( Armida ); Ernesto Palacio ( Goffredo ); Natale de Carolis ( Argante ); La Fenice di Venezia O NUOVA ERA 232468 (2 CDs: 129:49 Read more class="ARIAL12">Text and Translation) Live: Venice 6/1989

This is a reissue of a recording that was previously issued by Nuova Era and Mondo Musica. It allows us to hear Marilyn Horne in one of her signature roles, and it was presumably for her that this production was mounted at Venice’s La Fenice. Horne’s performance is what one would expect; she tosses off the coloratura with ease, and her performance is very assured. Her colleagues provide generally good support. Gasdia does not make as strong an impression as some of her recorded competition as Almirena, but her singing is technically assured. Weidinger certainly throws herself into the role of Armida, but she (along with some other members of the cast) is guilty of indulging in ugly, unidiomatic recomposition in da capo movements. In the da capo of “Molto volgio,” she even takes a page from the Joan Sutherland Book of Operatic Diction: there is hardly a consonant to be heard. Palacio and de Carolis are adequate but not memorable. I heard Horne perform this opera in a semi-staged version in Chicago at the time she was performing it at the Met in 1984, and her Argante was Samuel Ramey in his prime; de Carolis is not in Ramey’s league.

The La Fenice Orchestra uses modern instruments, which is fine with me; why should the period-instrument crowd get to have all the fun? They generally perform well, but because this release is based on live performances (parts of five performances were used), orchestra and principals are occasionally out of sync. The edition used is a mishmash of performances from Handel’s day. The music for Rinaldo, Almirena, Armida, and Argante is mostly taken from the original production in 1711. Goffredo’s music is taken from the 1731 revival when the role, originally sung by a female alto, was transposed to tenor; the Magician’s music also comes from the 1731 revival, transposed from alto to bass. The role of Eustazio is cut, as it was as early as the 1717 revival, with one aria and some recitatives transferred to Goffredo. A scene for Rinaldo from the 1731 revival is inserted in act III. The score is heavily cut; aside from Eustazio’s three remaining arias, seven arias are removed; one aria is moved from act I to act II; there are many cuts in the recitative, and delayed cadences are used.

The source of this recording must have been official tapes; the sound is very good stereo. The audience is quite well behaved; only applause and the occasional cough testify to its presence. Anyone looking for a basic representation of Handel’s opera obviously should look elsewhere. I recommend the Hogwood recording on Decca. But for anyone wanting to luxuriate in a prime Marilyn Horne performance, this can be recommended with confidence.

FANFARE: Ron Salemi
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Works on This Recording

Rinaldo, HWV 7 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Cosetta Tosetti (Soprano), Fabio Tartari (Bass), Christine Weidinger (Soprano),
Cecilia Gasdia (Soprano), Ernesto Palacio (Tenor), Marilyn Horne (Mezzo Soprano),
Carlo Colombara (Bass), Natale de Carolis (Bass Baritone), Caterina Calvi (Soprano)
Conductor:  John Fisher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Venice Teatro la Fenice Orchestra,  Venice Teatro la Fenice Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1711; London, England 
Date of Recording: 06/1989 
Venue:  Teatro La Fenice, Venice, Italy 
Length: 130 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: Italian 

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