Vivaldi Orlando Furioso
Alcina’s is an ‘isle full of noises’ and conductor Jean-Christophe Spinosi knows exactly how to extract every last dramatic nuance from them. He has form, of course. In 2004, with much the same cast, he added a scorching account of Orlando furioso to Naïve’s sumptuously produced Vivaldi Edition. Now he returns to the scene of Alcina’s crimes with a staging by Pierre Audi.
Musically, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées has marginally toned down the exhilaratingly combative style of the CDs. But his band still plays as if possessed by one of Alcina’s more benign spells. The staging employs shades of grey and looks stylishly simple – some distracting masked strutting and furniture aside. Philippe Jaroussky is a winsome Ruggiero; and filling the shoes of Bradamante, mezzo Kristina Hammarström is appropriately Brünnhilde-like, capable of polishing off two Ruggieros for breakfast. Stalking the stage like a Baroque Spider-Woman, Jennifer Larmore’s Alcina is the triumph it ever was, and her Act III disintegration is as riveting as Marie-Nicole Lemieux’s Orlando, whose madness holds eye and ear with every heart-wrenching syllable. In a performance as vital as this, however counterintuitive it might seem, Vivaldi can give Handel a run for his operatic money