One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Falckenhagen Flute Concertos

new releases


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom
Ph. 020 8418 0616



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Gunnar Kristinsson Moonbow

Mozart and Contemporaries


La clarinette Parisienne


Serenade - Septet

Complete Organ Works


Septem Dies



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

L'Olimpiade, the Opera 
see end of review for track listing
Karina Gauvin (Argene), Ruth Rosique (Aristea) (soprano), Romina Basso (Megacle), Franziska Gottwald (Licida) (mezzo), Nicholas Spanos (Aminta) (alto), Nicholas Phan (Clistene) (tenor)
Venice Baroque Orchestra/Markellos Chryssicos
rec. August 2011, Oratorio di Santa Croce, Mondovi, Italy. DDD
NAÏVE V 5295 [65:57 + 57:18] 

Experience Classicsonline

Pietro Metastasio (1698-1782) was the most famous librettist of the 18th century. Numerous librettos from his pen were used by composers across Europe. One of the most frequently set was L'Olimpiade. The first of these dates from 1733 and was written by Antonio Caldara (1670-1736), the last is from 1815, by the German composer Johann Nepomuk von Poissl.
Metastasio was an Arcadian, like many other prominent figures of his time, such as Pietro Ottoboni - patron of many composers - and Apostolo Zeno, another famous poet and author of librettos. The Arcadian movement was strongly influenced by antiquity as well as the moral principles of Descartes. According to the latter "virtue was best revealed in an individual's mental and spiritual ability to control actions that may be incited by human passion". Therefore "dramatic poets should teach moral principles under the guise of giving pleasure, and should move the emotions of audiences and readers in favour of the moral stance" (quotations from New Grove, ed. 2001). This explains the text of many arias in Metastasios librettos as well as their 'happy endings'.
L'Olimpiade takes its subject from the Olympic Games, but not so much the very fact of the Games itself. After all, the last time the Olympic Games had taken place was 393 AD. When humanism in the 16th century rediscovered the cultures of Greek and Roman antiquity, the phenomenon of the Olympic Games also reemerged. In the booklet Julian Fyfer quotes Shakespeare and John Milton who both refer to the Games in their works. Metastasio treated the subject from a rather pastoral point of view. Real sharp edges are more or less avoided. A synopsis of the libretto can be found here:. In his liner-notes Reinhard Strohm writes: "We seem to be in a different play: Sophocles' tragedy Oedipus the King. But in our opera, patricide and incest are avoided". It is telling that the first setting, by Antonio Caldara, was performed in Vienna during the vacation period in August, when the Habsburg empress celebrated her birthday. That would not be the right occasion to perform an opera heavy with conflict and including acts of treason and murder, as in some other Metastasio librettos.
The present recording fetaures all the arias of his libretto but by different composers. The music spans the period from 1733 (Caldara) to 1783 (Cherubini). In the booklet it is called a pasticcio, which New Grove defines as an "opera made up of various pieces from different composers or sources and adapted to a new or existing libretto". This practice dates from the late 17th century and at first was not universally accepted. It was only in the second half of the 18th century that this form gained a certain degree of respectability. It was a way of taking profit from the popularity of arias by the most famous composers of the time.
Historically speaking this recording cannot be called a pasticcio. First of all, we only get arias; they are not linked by recitatives. This means that it is impossible to understand the plot without reading the synopsis. It also means that there is no dramatic interaction between the protagonists. They all sing their own arias, without any dramatic connection between them. Secondly, the arias are from very different periods: a span of fifty years (1733-1783) may seem not a very long time, but stylistically Caldara and Cherubini are worlds apart. The change in style from one aria to another is sometimes quite drastic, for instance at the start of the second act, when Caldara's aria 'Grandi, è ver' is followed by 'Che non mi disse un di!' by Tommaso Traetta (1727-1779), whose setting dates from 1758. If you expect a piece of real music-theatre here, you will be disappointed.
This production can best be treated like a long public concert of arias from various operas. In an opera production the soloists need to portray their respective characters in a dramatically convincing way. That is hardly possible in an aria programme like this. Reinhard Strohm gives a description of the various characters in the story, and the singers generally live up to that description quite well. Stylistically these performances are far from perfect. In particular Romina Basso and Karina Gauvin use quite a lot of vibrato which is not justifiable. Some cadenzas tend to exaggeration. On a positive note, they avoid partly rewriting the da capos - a bad habit in many opera recordings these days. At first I had to get used to the singing of Nicholas Phan, but his interpretations of the three arias of Clistene are amongst the best here. I also liked Nicholas Spanos who has two arias in his role as Aminta, among them the brilliant aria in the second act, 'Siam navi all'onde algenti' by Hasse. Romina Basso shines in the highly dramatic aria 'Se cerca, se dice' by Cherubini. Franziska Gottwald is glorious in the superb sleep aria by Vivaldi, 'Mentre dormi'. Karina Gauvin and Ruth Rosique have brilliant arias in the second act: 'Tu me da me dividi' by Leo (Rosique) and 'No, le speranza' by Pergolesi (Gauvin).
Julian Fyfer, the producer of this recording, has made a fine choice from the many settings of this libretto. It is quite possible that a complete different selection would have resulted in an equally entertaining programme. With his choice we get very different compositional styles and different ways of dealing with the texts. The programme includes some composers who are hardly known, such as Davide Perez, Tommaso Traetta and Florian Leopold Gassmann. Even in the case of the better-known composers we only know a handful of their operas, and most of their dramatic works are seldom or never performed. This production should also be an incentive to opera houses and conductors to look for different repertoire. Wouldn't it be better to perform an opera by Caldara or Leo than, for instance, Handel's Giulio Cesare for the umpteenth time?  
Johan van Veen
Track listing
CD 1
Leonardo LEO (1694-1744)
Sinfonia [2:48]
[act 1]
Johann Adolf HASSE (1699-1783)
Superbo di me stesso (aria, Megacle) [6:55]
Baldassare GALUPPI (1706-1785)
Quel destrier, che all'albergo è vicino (aria, Licida) [5:12]
Giuseppe SARTI (1729-1802)
Oh care selve, oh cara felice libertà! (aria, Argene) [3:28]
Josef MYSLIVECEK (1737-1781)
Del destin non vi lagnate (aria, Clistene) [6:04]
Giovanni PAISIELLO (1740-1816)
Tu di saper procura (aria, Aristea) [5:52]
Davide PEREZ (1711-1778)
Più non si trovano (aria, Argene) [6:01]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Mentre dormi (aria, Licida) [9:27]
Florian Leopold GASSMANN (1729-1774)
Ne' giorni tuoi felici (duo, Megacle & Aristea) [5:34]
[act 2]
Antonio CALDARA (1670-1736)
Grandi, è ver, son le tue pene (aria, Aristea) [5:04]
Tommaso TRAETTA (1727-1779)
Che non mi disse un dì! (aria, Argene) [4:54]
Johann Adolf HASSE
Siam navi all'onde algenti (aria, Aminta) [3:15]
CD 2
Del forte Licida (chorus) [1:14]
Niccolò JOMMELLI (1714-1774)
So ch'è fanciullo Amore (aria, Clistene) [6:20]
Luigi CHERUBINI (1760-1842)
Se cerca, se dice: 'L'amico dov'è?' (aria, Megacle) [5:22]
Leonardo LEO
Tu me da me dividi (aria, Aristea) [2:51]
Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)
No, la speranza più non mi alletta (aria, Argene) [2:35]
Baldassare GALUPPI
Gemo in un punto, e fremo (aria, Licida) [4:27]
[act 3]
Niccolò PICCINNI (1728-1800)
Caro, son tua così (aria, Aristea) [3:35]
Lo seguitai felice (aria, Megacle) [9:50]
Davide PEREZ
Fiamma ignota nell'alma mi scende (aria, Argene) [6:48]
Johann Adolf HASSE
Son qual per mare ignoto (aria, Aminta) [5:29]
I tuoi strali terror de' mortali (chorus) [1:03]
Domenico CIMAROSA (1749-1801)
Non sò donde viene (aria, Clistene) [5:03]
Johann Adolf HASSE
Viva il figlio delinquente (chorus) [1:48]


















































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.