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Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Furore – opera arias
Serse HWV 40 (1738) - Crude furie degl'orridi abissi [3:43]
Teseo, HWV 9 (1713) - Dolce riposo, ed innocente pace  [3:14] Ira, sdegno, e furore...O stringerò nel' sen [4:46] Morirò, ma vendicata [4:46]
Giulio Cesare HWV 17 (1724) - Figlio non…L'angue offeso mai riposa [5:22]
Admeto, Rè di Tessaglia HWV 22 (1727) - Orride larve...Chiudetevi miei lumi [7:33] Gelosia, spietata Aletto [5:00]
Hercules HWV 60 (1745) – Then I am lost…There in myrtle shades reclined [4:40] Dissembling, false, perfidious Hercules!…Cease, ruler of the day, to rise [4:44] Where shall I fly? [6:00]
Semele HWV 58 (1744) - Hence, Iris, hence away [3:39]
Imeneo HWV 41 (1740) - Sorge nell'alma mia [5:21]
Ariodante HWV 33 (1735) – E vivo ancora?…Scherza infida [10:54]
Amadigi di Gaula HWV 11 (1715) -Destero dall’empia dite [5:23]
Joyce DiDonato (mezzo)
Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset
rec. during and after performances at the Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels, April 2008
VIRGIN CLASSICS 519038 [75:08] 


Experience Classicsonline

is the well-chosen word for a recital of, in the main, incendiary arias by wronged, scorned or vengeful Handelian heroes and heroines. The conduit for these passions is Joyce DiDonato, a singer of remarkable dramatic power and instincts who now joins a long and distinguished list of singers who have essayed all-Handel discs in the last twelve months. It seems now to be almost de rigueur.

The especially good news is that a number of the arias are less well-known ones. Crude furie degl'orridi abissi from Serse is the opener and is an immediate index of her amazing declamatory powers, the unerring ability in runs, excellent pitch, and above all the sense of immediate characterisation that is established. The voice here is under pretty much perfect control and is not subject to the occasionally discursive and off putting mannerisms others in this repertoire tend to inflict on it. The nobility of utterance of her aria from Teseo, Dolce riposo, ed innocente pace is immediately contrasted with the avenging fury of O stringerò nel' sen. Programming throughout I should note is a conspicuous success.

She covers huge expressive ground in L'angue offeso mai riposa from Giulio Cesare, colouring the line, inflecting it – note how she chews over the word trucidata in particular, relishing every syllable - and shadowed by an expressive oboist. There are scorching moments throughout, not least, when called for, in recitatives. Lend an ear to Orride larve, the recitative before the aria Chiudetevi miei lumi from Admeto. which moves from incendiary, explosive drama to sudden introspective desolation. There in myrtle shades reclined comes as balm after the fervid imaginings that precede it and here she fines down her tone with discretion and imaginative intelligence. Hence, Iris, hence away takes her to the slightly uncomfortable lower mezzo range – something that happens once or twice in the recital. It’s true also of Where shall I fly? which though a tour de force of theatrical and histrionic drama reveals the voice sometimes struggling to meet purely vocal demands.

It was inevitable that she should take on Scherza infida and it offers something of an extreme example of her art. I wouldn’t seek to judge the rectal as a whole from this single aria. It’s very slow and DiDonato slightly scoops up the note. Stylistically she plays – possibly plays havoc – with the ornaments especially in the da capo. It’s all a mixture of expressively oddly inert and technically exaggerated. She enjoys considerable rubati and portamenti. The highest notes though are undeniably beautiful and of the most ravishing intensity.

The booklet contains a good essay, texts and translations. But it’s not immediately clear from the documentation how much of this recital was recorded live and how much without an audience – ‘recorded during and after performances at the Théâtre de la Monnaie’ is what we’re told. It may account for the exceptionally theatrical nature of many of the performances, for their quivering intensity and occasionally excessive character. What’s not in doubt is the fulsome commitment revealed by this fearless singer.

Jonathan Woolf

see also Review by Robert Hugill



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