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Handel: Alcina / Curtis, DiDonato, Beaumont, Gauvin, Cherici, Priante, Il Complesso Barocco, et al

Album Summary

>Handel, George Frideric : Alcina
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"This new recording is interesting partly for the casting of a mezzo-soprano in the title role. Anyone wondering about this aspect should worry no further: Joyce DiDonato triumphs completely... When DiDonato, Beaumont and Gauvin are centre-stage, though, the drama gels, and it's exciting." -MusicalCriticism.com

Gramophone Magazine
This Alcina is polished and passionate, the standard of da capo ornamentation unsurpassed. The acoustical environment of this recording is near-perfect. Every detail can be clearly heard, in part because of the minimal instrumental resources Curtis employs and his keen sense of architecture and pacing of Handel's music. Technically, DiDonato is superb: her Alcina is a complex, feminine creature, vain and vindictive - listen to her spine-tingling performance of "Ombre pallide" and the recitative that precedes it in Act 2.

BBC Music Magazine
... mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato brings firebrand fioritura (vocal embellishment), impeccably naturalistic recitative and an inimitable everywoman pathos to the soprano title-role.

The Telegraph
Here Joyce DiDonato sings the marvellous title role with dramatic fire and unfailing musicality. Her suitors Ruggiero (Maite Beaumont) and Bradamante (Sonia Prina) are well contrasted, and there's a delightful Morgana from Karina Gauvin. The scholar-conductor Alan Curtis leads his band Il Complesso Barocco to play with careful elegance and the performance as a whole is refreshingly crisp and disciplined.

The Guardian
Joyce DiDonato takes the title role. Nothing about Alcina is quite what it seems, and here we have a mezzo singing a soprano's music with considerable finesse, but with occasional moments of telltale strain. This is also a performance of immense calculation, so that while we're aware of Alcina's allure, we're also continually questioning her emotional veracity...Karina Gauvin is to die for as Morgana, and Kobie van Rensburg is the best of all Orontes.

Sunday Times
Joyce DiDonato's velvety, sensuous mezzo is a surprising choice for Handel's majestically tormented sorceress, darker of voice than Sutherland, and she might have trouble with higher-lying phrases in the theatre. She rises magnificently to the challenges of Alcina's great, wrenching scenes of despair and is preferable both to Sutherland's droopy wordlessness and Fleming's smoochy, Handel-on-Broadway solecisms. Maite Beaumont's Ruggiero is in the Berganza class, while Karina Gauvin (Morgana), Sonia Prina (Bradamante), Kobie van Rensburg (Oronte) and Vito Priante (Melisso) bring character and impeccable stylistic credentials to the supporting roles. This is the must-have Alcina on disc.

The Times
Handel's music is beyond magnificent and DiDonato's sorceress Alcina proves a triumph of dramatic fire. Karina Gauvin's Morgana suffers most beautifully; Maite Beaumont's hero Ruggiero less so. Yet no voice ruins the show, and Alan Curtis's Il Complesso Barocco creates orchestral beauty with every note.

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Alan Curtis clearly welcomed the chance to add this masterpiece to the gradually expanding list of Handel operas he has recorded with Il Complesso Barocco. This Alcina is polished and passionate, the standard of da capo ornamentation unsurpassed. The acoustical environment of this recording is near-perfect. Every detail can be clearly heard, in part because of the minimal instrumental resources Curtis employs and his keen sense of the architecture and pacing of Handel's music.

Handel knew his singers' individual strengths and played to them. Curtis, too, knows how to coax the best from his singers. Joyce DiDonato, Maite Beaumont and Karina Gauvin have worked with him before and contribute vividly informed portrayals of the principal characters that stand comparison with the best performances on previous recordings. Technically, DiDonato is superb: her Alcina is a complex, feminine creature, vain and vindictive - listen to her spine-tingling performance of 'Ombre pallide' and the recitative that precedes it in Act 2.

Beaumont is at ease in Carestini's role as Ruggiero - heroic when required (as in 'Bramo di trionfar', the discarded aria, originally in Act 1 scene 7, that Curtis reinstated) - and more than equal to the demands of the much-loved 'Verdi prati' (Act 2). Gauvin, her silk-clad Morgana fully as manipulative as Alcina, and Prina, the ever faithful Bradamante, each bring tremendous spirit and sensuousness to their roles. If Van Rensburg's Oronte wavers momentarily in Act 3, Priante's steadfast Melisso and Cherici's courageous Oberto show the way. This could well be the Alcina we've been waiting for.

Penguin Guide
[DiDonato is] dramatically very impressive, while Maite Beaumont is a strong Ruggiero and Karina Gauvin a seductive Morgana.



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Works Details

>Handel, George Frideric : Alcina
  • Performers: Maite Beaumont (Voice); Vito Priante (Bass); Laura Cherici (Soprano); Sonia Prina (Alto); Kobie Rensburg (Tenor); Karina Gauvin (Soprano); Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Running Time: 177 min. 26 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1735