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Posts Tagged ‘Handel’s Giulio Cesare’

I thought I would take forever to decide which would be my first download in DGG’s new website – after all, there were so many deleted items or those never released on CD, but it soon occured to me that the way to go should be purchasing the few tracks I would like to hear in CD’s the remaining content of which I had no curiosity about otherwise. Suddenly the idea of sampling Tatiana Troyanos’s Cleopatra in Karl Richter’s recording popped up in my mind. Richter’s conducting was supposed to be helplessly heavy and following Fischer-Dieskau’s contrived way through Handel coloratura is not a priori my idea of fun – but Tatiana Troyanos…! The first time I heard her voice was in Karl Böhm’s recording of Richard Strauss’s Capriccio and I thought: if Ella Fitzgerald sang opera, it would be more or less like that. And I have been an inconditional fan since then.

Having downloaded all Cleopatra’s aria (including Tu la mia stella sei and Venere bella) and listened to them (many and many… and many times), I have to say – I am spellbound. I simply disagree with all other reviewers. First of all, I don’t find Richter’s conducting heavy at all in these items (I cannot say anything about the rest of the opera) – the tempi are flowing, the orchestra is not thick as I guessed and there is more than graciousness going on there. As I use to do when I am being really subjective, I’ll disclosure the liabilities before someone point them out – she is a bit overserious and probably maybe austere in her interpretation, but no Cleopatra could dream to be seductive without that sexy suntanned voice. If that voice were a person, it would be Catherina Zeta-Jones; if it were food, it would be dark chocolate (Pierre Marcolini, of course); if it were a place, it would be Venice. Mix them all together and what have you got? Just a picture of what a Cleopatra should be.

With my Troyanos’s highlights, I shouldn’t need more about this recording – but I have to confess I am curious to hear further. A die-hard period-practices fundamentalist would be horrified to read me saying that one positive surprise was to listen to an aria like, say, Venere bella in a way every note has time to breath and blossom, instead of an exhilarating display of fioriture in which the singer hardly has time to make sense with the text. Of course, a René Jacobs or a Marc Minkowski are able to reveal all the facettes of a work like Giulio Cesare in Egitto in a way good old Richter couldn’t or wouldn’t (because of the approach to Handel’s works in those days, I would say), but I am convinced that knowing the right time to relax a bit certainly add flavour in key points of the score.

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