WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Cavalli: La Virtu De’ Strali D’amore / Biondi, Nicotra, Bertagnolli, Sancho, Invernizzi

Cavalli / Nicotra / Bertagnolli (2pc)
Release Date: 10/25/2011 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 2110614  
Composer:  Pier Francesco Cavalli
Performer:  Donatella LombardiMonica PiccininiMarco ScavazzaRoberto Abbondanza,   ... 
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
Number of Discs: 2 
Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

CAVALLI La virtù de’ strali d’Amore Fabio Biondi, cond; Giacinta Nicotra ( Caprice/Leucippe/Clarindo ); Gemma Bertagnolli ( Pleasure/Clito/Rumor ); Juan Sancho ( Pallante ); Cristiana Arcari ( Erabena/Eumete ); Filippo Adami ( Meonte ); Roberta Inernizzi ( Cleria/Venus Read more class="ARIAL12">); Monica Piccinini ( Cleandra/Amore ); Marco Scavazza ( First Sailor/Evagora/Jupiter ); Roberto Abbondanza ( Second Sailor/Saturn ); Donatella Lombardi ( Ericlea/Psiche ); Filippo Morace ( Darete/Marte ); Europa Galante (period instruments) NAXOS 2.110614/15 (2 DVDs 150:04)

I have been unfamiliar with Naxos opera discs on DVD, but as Klaus Heymann has industriously sheltered various recording companies under his umbrella, this form of operatic production was certain to follow. This tragicomedy by Giovanni Faustini with music by Francesco Cavalli is a performance at the newly resurrected La Fenice theater in Venice under license of one of these companies, Dynamic, which usually specializes in live performance recordings. In discs of previous works, such as Nicolò Piccinni’s Didon , I’ve often lamented the lack of visuals, for the usual live recording on that label often suffers from acoustical quirks that make it sometimes less than satisfying. With the visual element of the DVD, however, any issues are often subsumed into the multimedia effect. Given recent Naxos recordings of operas by Philidor and Monsigny, this is a trend that I hope this company continues.

Regarding the work itself, La virtù de’ strali d’Amore (The Virtue of Love’s Arrows) is a rather typical work written for the Venetian stage during the heyday of 17th-century opera in that city. In 1642 it was premiered at the Teatro San Moisè, where it won approval of the public and began a composer-librettist collaboration with Faustini, a lawyer with ambitions as an author, that lasted a decade. The plot is typical of operas of this period, somewhat convoluted with lots of various threads that seem to unravel as fast as they are woven together. In a spoken prologue, Caprice and Pleasure conspire to create a situation that will provide entertainment for them, rushing off to the shores of Cyprus to wield their power. There two pairs of lovers, Pallante/Cleria and Meonte/Erabena, are searching for each other. It doesn’t help that Erabena is disguised as Eumete and in the service of Pallante. There is an attempted abduction by Meonte of Cleria, foiled by Pallante, and a sorceress, Cleandra, steps in to save the first, who has been wounded. Add to this a beloved brother, Darete, and a nasty queen with underworld ties (OK, that means Hades here), Ericlea, and you have just about as confusing a twist in the action as one can imagine. In act II, there is a further episode wherein the gods Eros, Venus, and Mars all gather, with an even more bizarre turn when Psyche turns up looking for her husband. To top it off, Erabena steals Cupid’s bow and arrows, using them on Meonte before she has to give them up. It’s all very confusing, with long stretches of dialog interrupted by brief ritornellos and short arias or duets. The music underscores the text, providing the continuity, but it of course lacks the display that one finds in, say, Neapolitan opera several decades later.

I’d like to say that the story is charming, but without the subtitles, it is rather convoluted. The stage itself is virtually bare, with much use of trap doors to make the characters appear or disappear, often with long runners of shimmering fabric twisting and turning to create an analogous display. The costumes are, save for the prologue, in modern dress (causing more than an awkward moment or two when Pallante whips out a pistol while the dialogue mentions a sword), and few bits of scenery. The singing is first-rate, in any case, and the cast members complement each other quite well. No voice, however, stands out, but in such a work where the music flows without cessation and the various arias are but momentary lyrical occasions, this is how it should be. Europa Galante, enhanced with a group of cornets and trombones as well as some recorders, is ably directed by Fabio Biondi, who sort of arranged Cavalli’s somewhat amorphous score. They are subtle and supportive, never overt, and always match both the timbres and tempos of the work itself. My only quibble is that the sound is sometimes a bit muffled, as always happens with these live performances, but the camerawork by Davide Mancini is interesting and contributes greatly to the ambience of the work. As DVDs go, if one can get past the minimalist set and sometimes quirky stage direction, this is a good way to spend a couple of hours in the Baroque theater soaking in the musical and poetic creativity of Venetian opera.

FANFARE: Bertil van Boer


Francesco Cavalli

Caprice / Leucippe / Clarindo – Giacinta Nicotra
Pleasure / Clito / Rumour – Gemma Bertagnolli
Pallante – Juan Sancho
Erabena – Cristiana Arcari
Meonte – Filippo Adami
Cleria / Venus – Roberta Invernizzi
Cleandra / Amore – Monica Piccinini
First sailor / Evagora / Jupiter – Marco Scavazzav Second sailor / Saturn – Roberto Abbondanza
Ericlea / Psiche – Donatella Lombardi
Darete / Marte – Filippo Morace

Europa Galante
Fabio Biondi, soloist and conductor

Direction, Sets, Costume Design: Facoltà di Design e Arti IUAV di Venezia

Tutors: Davide Livermore, stage direction
Tiziano Santi, set design
Vera Marzot, costume design
Claudio Coloretti, lighting design

Recorded at the Teatro Malibran, Venice, Italy, 14 October 2008.

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo 2.0 / Dolby Surround 5.0 / DTS 5.0
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: Italian, English
Running time: 150 mins
No. of DVDs: 2
Read less

Works on This Recording

La virtù dei strali d'Amore by Pier Francesco Cavalli
Performer:  Donatella Lombardi (Soprano), Monica Piccinini (Soprano), Marco Scavazza (Baritone),
Roberto Abbondanza (Baritone), Roberta Invernizzi (Soprano), Juan Sancho (Tenor),
Giacinta Nicotra (Soprano), Gemma Bertagnolli (Soprano), Filippo Morace (Baritone)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1642 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title