Notes & Reviews:
Alan Curtis, described by the New York Times as "one of the great scholar-musicians of recent times", conducts a brilliant cast including Sonia Prina, Ann Hallenberg, Max-Emanuel Cencic and Topi Lehtipuu in Gluck's Ezio. Described by Curtis as "from a dramatic point of view, perhaps the finest of Gluck's pre-Orfeo operas," this recording presents the original version of Ezio, which received its premiere in Prague in 1750. Written to a libretto by the prolific and influential Metastasio, Ezio exemplifies the formal opera seria that Gluck sought to leave behind with his so-called reform operas such as Orfeo and Alceste. However, after Orfeo's epoch-making premiere in Vienna in 1762 he revised Ezio in the reform opera style for performance at the city's Burgtheater in 1763.
"While the libretto by Metastasio suggests a conventional opera seria, anyone looking for a foretaste of Gluck’s poetic late style will not be disappointed." -The Financial Times
"Curtis’s prima donna and primo uomo are the clinchers, with Sonia Prina a wonderfully affecting Ezio and the musically impeccable Ann Hallenberg as his beloved Fulvia. Topi Lehtipuu is a bland villain, but sings stylishly." -The Sunday Times
"[Curtis] goes about his missionary work with the same combination of scrupulous attention to scholarly detail and finely honed dramatic nous already familiar from his Handel recordings." -The Guardian
"It’s an opera full of coloratura showcases, sophisticated harmonic ideas and great theatricality. Under Alan Curtis’s expert direction the playing is sinuous and spirited, and most of the singing forthright and virtuosic — though Topi Lehtipuu steals the show with his honeyed Se povero il ruscello" -The Times
BBC Music Magazine
What it reveals may surprise listeners. Though couched in the classic opera seria mode of the time...it shows that, like Handel [Gluck] could imbue the traditional form with drama...the succession of vast, ornate da capo arias is vividly characterised by many distinctive touches. All the principals shine...The band is neat and precise, and Curtis highlights the work's musical strengths with skill.
Graham Rogers, bbc.co.uk
Contralto Sonia Prina is superb in the title role...velvety-voiced in her lugubrious aria at the start of Act 1, fiery and intense in the quick-fire "Se fedele mi brama"...a committed and nimble account, recorded at and after a public performance in France in 2008, which makes a highly persuasive case for Gluck's neglected operas.
While the libretto by Metastasio suggests a conventional opera seria, anyone looking for a foretaste of Gluck's poetic late style will not be disappointed.
Curtis conducts with mingled elegance and fire, pacing the drama expertly and drawing vital playing from his period band (not least the first oboe, crucial in Gluck) that goes beyond mere good style. His cast, several of them Curtis regulars, are shrewdly chosen: youthful of tone, stylistically aware and always intensely alive to the meaning of the text, in aria and recitative.
Recording information: Théâtre de Poissy (12/18/2008).
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Works DetailsGluck, Christoph Willibald : Ezio, opera in 3 acts, Wq. 15
- Conductor: Alan Curtis
- Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
- Running Time: 98 min. 20 sec.
- Period Time: Classical
- Form: Opera/Operetta