> Antonio Vivaldi - Il Giustino [KM]: Classical CD Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Il Giustino RV 717 [136.13]
Libretto after Count Nicolò Beregan
Anastasio - Marina Comparato
Arianna - Dominique Labelle
Giustino - Francesca Provvisionato
Leocasta - Geraldine McGreevy
Vitaliano - Leonardo De Lisi
Amanzio - Laura Cherici
Il Complesso Barocco/Alan Curtis
Rec: October 2001 (live and in sessions), Grote Zaal, Concert-en congressgebou de Doelen, Rotterdam, Netherlands
VIRGIN VERITAS 5455182 [2CDs: 136.13]


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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 work…).

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.

Kirk McElhearn

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