Renée Fleming stars in the title role of this rarely heard diva showcase, in a production by Tony Award® winner Mary Zimmerman. Rossini's opera, set in the time of the Crusades, tells the story of a vengeful sorceress who enthralls men in her island prison. This DVD captures the production's Live in HD presentation, as seen in cinemas around the world.
Cimarosa was an expert at writing lighthearted opera buffa that zipped along. Much of this music sounds very much like his better known IL Matrimonio Segreto, coming clearly out of the same stable, but it has its distinctive elements. Here the forces of the Festival Valle D'Itria come up with a sparkling production. The singing and the orchestra come across as excellent, the conductor Eric Hull keeping things moving with a light touch that keeps it all together. The singers keep the music zipping along, and when it turns more serious, Alla Simonischvili, the lead soprano, and the others handle it well. Well recorded, especially considering that apparently we have some sort of mixture of only two straight-through live performances, and well performed this set offers a good deal of pleasure.(John Cragg)
Armida abbandonata is one of Niccolo Jommelli's finest operas. It was the first he composed after returning to Naples from his triumphant years in Stuttgart (1754-1769), receiving its first performance at the Teatro San Carlo on May 30, 1770. Among those who attended was the 14-year old Mozart, whose report that Armida was "beautiful, but too serious and old-fashioned for the theater," has been frequently quoted and almost as frequently misunderstood. "The theater" almost certainly refers specifically to the San Carlo, which did indeed find Armida "too serious," in the sense of its harmonic and orchestral complexity, ironically a criticism Mozart himself would later encounter in Vienna.
The two Johann Adolf Hasse compositions recorded here are proof of the both high quality of his music and the broad range of styles which he had at his disposal. Once again Hans-Christoph Rademann offers an exemplary interpretation of music from the Court of Dresden, to which he has often dedicated his musical efforts.
“Under the direction of Hans-Christoph Rademann the Dresdner Barockorchester and the superb Chamber Choir bring a homogeneous, lean performance which follows integrally the gesture of the text and provides many moving moments. Thus with its penetrating tone language this live recording brings to life two unjustly forgotten masterworks of the 18th century.”