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Leonardo Leo: L'Alidoro / Florio, Ermolli, Schiavo, Varriale, Ercolano

Leo / Cappella Della Pieta De'turchini Baroque
Release Date: 10/26/2010 
Label:  Dynamic   Catalog #: 588  
Composer:  Leonardo Leo
Performer:  Francesca Russo ErmolliMaria Grazia SchiavoGiuseppe De VittorioGianpiero Ruggeri
Conductor:  Antonio Florio
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cappella della Pietŕ de' TurchiniCappella de' Turchini Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

LEO L’Alidoro Antonio Florio, cond; Maria Grazia Schiavo ( Faustina ); Maria Ercolano ( Luigi/Alidoro ); Valentina Varriale ( Zeza ); Francesca Russo Ermolli ( Elisa ); Giuseppe de Vittorio ( Don Marcello ); Filippo Morace ( Giangrazio ); Gianpiero Ruggeri Read more ( Meo ); O Barocca/Cappella della Pietà de’ Turchini DYNAMIC 588/1-2 (2 CDs; 157:40 Text and Translation)

I reviewed the DVD of this live 2008 performance in Fanfare 33:5. Since then, it’s gone on to win several awards—all for its musical performances, rather than its staging. Perhaps taking their cue from this, Dynamic has chosen to release it as a pair of CDs.

How problematic was that staging? It didn’t help that the sets were K-Mart Modern, with iron patio furniture and a pair of laundry poles meant to indicate an upscale taverna. Worse still, director Arturo Cirillo simply didn’t believe that an audience would sit still for any of its music, as was evident by the relentless stage business he created to draw attention away from it: new entries created for characters to hold picnics on the floor and go to sleep while others were singing, for instance, and a new mute servant part who breakdances during a card game set as an instrumental piece of great virtuosity. No one found any of this amusing, judging by the audience’s lack of reaction, so the move to audio only is welcome.

All the more so in that the performers are quite good, on the whole. Maria Grazia Schiavo, who did an excellent job in the premiere recording of Cesti’s Le disgrazie d’Amore (Hyperion CDA67771/2), is first-rate, as is Francesca Russo Ermolli. Maria Ercolano is better still, with Filippo Morace, Valentina Varriale, and Gianpiero Ruggeri all good, and very much in character. Only Giuseppe de Vittorio disappoints among the singers, suffering from what sounds like a severe sore throat that doesn’t affect his keen sense of style. Disturbing, too, is the presence of anachronistic, improvised melodies in da capo repeats based on a third, fifth, or octave above the written ones, instead of appropriate appoggiaturas. Antonio Florio and the Turchini forces display their customary verve and focus.

The sound is very forward, the singers slightly more so than is usual in modern operatic recordings. Expect a degree of stage noise, though not very much. Dynamic’s DVD release comes with a summary of each act, while the full libretto with English transliteration is online at the company’s Web site.

I originally recommended purchase of L’Alidoro for its musical excellence and generally fine singing, in spite of the misguided direction and poor stage images. With the visuals gone, those parts of my reservations are, as well.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

L'Alidoro by Leonardo Leo
Performer:  Francesca Russo Ermolli (Soprano), Maria Grazia Schiavo (Soprano), Giuseppe De Vittorio (Tenor),
Gianpiero Ruggeri (Baritone)
Conductor:  Antonio Florio
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cappella della Pietŕ de' Turchini,  Cappella de' Turchini Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1740 

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