Vivid, open sound. An excellent bargain, despite the lack of a full libretto.
Conductor Kevin Mallon
Cast Marion Newman, Laura Whalen, Kimberly Barber, Jennifer Enns Modolo, Sean Watson, Babara Hannigan, Giles Tomkins, Nicole Bower, Catherine Affleck, Melinda Delorme, Lenard Whiting
3 CDs with synopsis, a full libretto is available online.
The Irish conductor Kevin Mallon offers a totally refreshing account of Rinaldo, Handel’s opera about the crusading knight whom the sorceress, Armida, attempts to seduce. Mallon opts for the first version of the score, even though Handel later added alternative numbers. Following that decision, he has women instead of counter-tenors for the castrato roles of Rinaldo and Eustazio, giving the small castrato role of the magician, Mago, to a bass. The cast is made up of fresh, youthful-sounding singers, none of them strikingly characterful but all stylish, with clean, fresh voices and immaculate techniques. Despite the dictates of period performance Mallon takes the most famous number, the aria Lascia ch’io pianga, exceptionally slowly, allowing the excellent soprano Laura Whalen to ornament the reprise with great delicacy. Vivid, open sound. An excellent bargain, despite the lack of a full libretto.