Antonio Vivaldi’s opera Il Giustino, composed in 1724
for the Teatro Capranico in Rome, is a very long work in its complete
version, "an opera of excessive length even for the patient public
of the eighteenth century," says Alan Curtis in his notes to this
recording. He defends his use of "judicious" cutting in reining
in this long work, and explains why he has removed or kept certain sections.
This is, therefore, a "version" of this opera/ The listener,
however, is best advised to ignore these issues, sit back and enjoy the
music (unless, of course, already familiar with other recordings of this
And enjoyable it is. Vivaldi’s full range of melodic
invention and vigour are present, with some beautiful arias and delightful
melodies, even a parody of part of the Four Seasons, at one point. This
recording features a bevy of fine soloists, beginning with the excellent
mezzo-soprano Marina Comparato. She has some difficult sections, that
she does not always negotiate perfectly (such as the aria Un vostro
sguardo), but she gives her all. Dominique Labelle is very good, but
there is occasionally a bit too much vibrato in her singing. I very
much like Francesca Provvisionato as Giustino. Her voice is not perfect,
she wavers a bit, but her tone is pleasing and there is something naïve
in the way she sings.
Most of the music in this opera is lively and rapid,
but there are occasional arias which are a bit slower. Vedro con bio
diletto, sung by Marina Comparato, is a slower, plaintive piece, but
it sounds a bit hurried, as if Alan Curtis couldn’t bring himself to
slow down enough for it.
This recording is based on a live performance, and
additional sessions were recorded the following day, undoubtedly to
"fill in" the bits that didn’t sound good enough. At times,
there is a noticeable difference in sound between sections - between
the end of the opening sinfonia and the first recitative, for example,
one can hear a different type of background noise. Nevertheless, the
recording is excellent, and the sound is fine - fortunately, one does
not have to listen to the audience applauding after each aria, as is
occasionally the case with live recordings. There are some weak moments
though, as in the aria Sole degl’occhi miei, where the violins that
play along with Dominique Labelle overpower her at a crucial moment;
the violins have a slightly harsh sound at times.
But, in the end, this is a delightful recording. The
musicians are smooth and excellent, the singers top-notch, and the music
over two hours of pleasure.