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Early Music Today (06-08/2014)


Code-barres / Barcode : 0709861305537 (ID448)

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Reviewer: Graham Lock

L'incoronazione di Dario is one of Vivaldi's sillier operas. In his CD notes, Frédéric Delaméaa calls it a tragicomedy, but the term flatters a work that, until its last few scenes, is predominantly farcical in tone. Delaméa suggests Vivaldi chose to resurrect Adriano Morselli's 1684 libretto in 1717 specifically to flout the fashionable aesthetics of the Arcadian Academy, which stressed the nobility of opera seria and the pre‑eminence of the da capo aria. Morselli's text certainly subverts those notions, mixing arias (and ariosos) of all types and lengths, and making the prima donna role a comic character: the simple‑minded Princess Statira, whose naivety verges on the absurd, is more satirical anti‑heroine than noble ingénue.

The comic scenes may work well on stage, but their pages of recitative fail to entertain on CD. And the profusion of arias apparently taxed Vivaldi ‑ only a handful stand out, chiefly for their distinctive instrumental colours; bassoon and violone in 'Non lusinghi il core amante', recorders and muted violins in 'Se palpitarti in sen'. Tenor Anders Dahhn is a mellifluous Dario; Sara Mingardo's Statira gets the best tunes, though her rich contralto can seem at odds with the artless character of the princess. The orchestra's speedy pacing and smooth playing tend to skim over some of the music's more expressive possibilities.

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