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Monteverdi: L'orfeo / Alessandrini, Nigl, Invernizzi, Mingardo, Donato, Milanesi [blu-ray]

Monteverdi / Alessandrini / Lsct / Milanesi
Release Date: 03/29/2011 
Label:  Opus Arte   Catalog #: 7080  
Composer:  Claudio Monteverdi
Performer:  Raffaella MilanesiGeorg NiglSara MingardoRoberta Invernizzi,   ... 
Conductor:  Rinaldo Alessandrini
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

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Also available on standard DVD

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MONTEVERDI L’Orfeo Rinaldo Alessandrini, cond; Georg Nigl ( Orfeo ); Roberta Invernizzi ( Euridice/Musica/Eco ); Sara Mingardo Read more ( Messagerra/Speranza ); Luigi de Donato ( Caronte ); Raffaelaa Milanesi ( Proserpina ); Giovanni Battista Parodi ( Plutone ); Furio Zanasi ( Apollo ); Nicola Strada (dancer); La Scala O & Ch OPUS ARTE OA BD7080D (Blu-ray: 121:35) Live: La Scala 9/21, 23/2009


This La Scala production of what the booklet notes rightly call “the first great opera” seems in most respects an attempt to evoke the work’s 1607 premiere, in terms of music and staging. According to Tim Carter’s fine notes, L’Orfeo was apparently meant to be performed by a small cast of singers, doubling roles and participating in the choral numbers. The pit orchestra, although it featured cornets, trombones, other wind instruments, and a large continuo contingent, employed a limited string ensemble, and so it goes here. Of course, we can’t know what the original staging was really like, but even in this department La Scala is nodding toward the work’s origins, with the singers dressed in costumes of Monteverdi’s time (rather than the garb of ancient Greece), and stage director (and set and lighting director) Robert Wilson creating a ceremonial, even static atmosphere. Frankly, this looks exactly like a typical Wilson production rather than some evocation of the early 17th-century stage. Wilson, here and in the past, has been more interested in tableaux and the purity of motion than in character- or plot-motivated action. This works reasonably well initially, but the second half of L’Orfeo devolves into face-the-audience, stand-and-deliver tedium, each character in physical isolation from the others. There may be some psychological justification for this, but the concept is far more effective in the abstract than in practice. One other detail that may strike contemporary viewers as odd: With the heavy, pale greasepaint on their faces, Orfeo and his shepherd friends from a distance all look distractingly like the android Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation.


Musically, though, this production can hardly be faulted. Start with the opening Toccata; conductor Rinaldo Alessandrini draws a real snarl from the orchestra, making the music sound primitive and ritualistic, more ancient Greek than Italian Baroque. Later, his ritornelli can be quite fast, but they’re treated as transitions between vocal segments; nobody is trying to dance to them. (There is one dancer on stage, strutting about in feathers and a Venetian bird mask, but his purpose beyond linking to the art and culture of Monteverdi’s time is inscrutable.)


German baritone Georg Nigl takes the title role, with only a few ardent outbursts interrupting his sweet, disconsolate, and quite lovely singing. He is well partnered by Roberta Invernizzi and Sara Mingardo in their multiple roles, and by the secondary vocalists. The singing is, for the most part, period-appropriate but never dry.


The DTS-HD 5.1 audio track brings clarity, tonal beauty, and precise imaging to the orchestra, and serves the singers well, too, although with little sense of depth. Video director Emanuele Garofalo does a good job of offering enough well-chosen shots to overcome stage director Wilson’s stasis without negating Wilson’s intentions. The Blu-ray picture quality is fine, maintaining clarity in a production that, in terms of color, is intentionally drab. Note that the disc’s total time includes seven minutes of curtain calls and end credits; there’s also a four-minute illustrated synopsis, but aside from cast information, no other extra features.


FANFARE: James Reel


Claudio Monteverdi
L'ORFEO

Orfeo – Georg Nigl
Euridice / Eco – Roberta Invernizzi
Messaggera / Speranza – Sara Mingardo
Caronte – Luigi De Donato
Proserpina – Raffaella Milanesi
Plutone – Giovanni Battista Parodi
Apollo – Furio Zanasi

Concerto Italiano
Milan La Scala Orchestra
Rinaldo Alessandrini, conductor

Robert Wilson, stage director
Jacques Reynaud, costume designer
A J Weissbard, lighting designer
Recorded live at La Teatro alla Scala, 21 and 23 December 2009.
Bonus:
- Cast gallery
- Illustrated Synopsis

Picture format: 1080i High Definition
Sound format: PCM 2.0 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Menu language: English
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian
Running time: 116 mins
No. of Discs: 1 (Blu-ray)
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Works on This Recording

1.
L'Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi
Performer:  Raffaella Milanesi (Soprano), Georg Nigl (Baritone), Sara Mingardo (Alto),
Roberta Invernizzi (Soprano), Giovanni Battista Parodi (Baritone), Luigi de Donato (Bass),
Furio Zanasi (Baritone)
Conductor:  Rinaldo Alessandrini
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1607; Mantua, Italy 

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