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Handel: Ariodante / Curtis, Didonato, Gauvin, Lemieux, Lehtipuu

Release Date: 06/07/2011 
Label:  Erato   Catalog #: 70844  
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Anicio Zorzi GiustinianiMatthew BrookTopi LehtipuuKarina Gauvin,   ... 
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is the fourth Ariodante I've reviewed for Classicstoday.com, and despite my love for the Minkowski, previously my favorite, this one outclasses it--and the rest. Ariodante is up there with Cesare, Alcina, and Tamerlano as one of the composer's truly great operas, with little unnecessary chatter, a good (and easy to follow) story, and real villains.

On disc, Joyce DiDonato joins Janet Baker, Lorraine Hunt, Anne Murray, and Anne Sofie von Otter as the eponymous heroine. It's a great role and each woman is superb, but DiDonato's voice is so beautiful, her mastery of the Handelian idiom so impeccable, and her way of coloring each aria to fit its text is just about unmatchable. Her
Read more trills in "Dopo note" are all perfectly placed, and the grand "Scherza infida" is darkly rendered. Karina Gauvin's Ginevra is touching--this wronged character is really in trouble for half the opera--without ever resorting to being maudlin. And while Lynne Dawson (for Minkowski) may have more pep in the happy arias, Gauvin gets our sympathy.

As the villainess Polinesso, Ewa Podles certainly is formidable for Minkowski, but Marie-Nicole Lemieux is better: she has the dark tone needed but adds to it a flawless Handelian style. Sabina Puertolas is a terrific Dalinda, moving from sweet to stupidly guilty to contrite with sincerity and fine technique. Topi Lehtipuu's Lurcanio is just shy of Richard Croft's perfect performance for Minkowski, but he and Puertolas blend handsomely when they sing together. Matthew Brook is a bit young-sounding for the King, but his attention to the text and style are just right.

Alan Curtis has included an extra aria for Lurcanio that was cut by Handel early on, as well as all the ballet music, which is Handel's best. Il Complesso Barocco plays stylishly and Curtis' tempos are well thought-out. Sonics are superb. This is a terrific recording.

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Ariodante, HWV 33 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani (Tenor), Matthew Brook (Baritone), Topi Lehtipuu (Tenor),
Karina Gauvin (Soprano), Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto),
Sabina Puértolas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Complesso Barocco
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1734-1735; London, England 

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