Cavalieri: La rappresentatione di anima e di corpo

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Cavalieri
LABELS: Koch
WORKS: La rappresentatione di anima e di corpo
PERFORMER: Judith Nelson (soprano), Paul Hillier (bass); Magnificat/Warren Stewart, Susan Harvey
CATALOGUE NO: 3-7363-2
When the first opera was published in 1600, the preface stated that Cavalieri was the first to put ‘our king of music upon the stage’. And here is that music – a marvellous dramatic representation of the eternal struggle between the delights of the flesh and the journey of the soul all written in the newly invented operatic style, with solos

Advertisement

and choruses, lively dances and instrumental interludes. It begins well with Andrew Morgan as ‘Time’, who shows that not only does he know the meaning of every word, but also that every word means something to him. Paul Hillier (‘Body’) and Judith Nelson (‘Soul’) are also good, but not particularly wide-ranging dramatically. The Act III choruses of the Damned are wonderfully anguished with cavernous ‘noises off’ for effect, but some of the earlier choruses are ragged and gabbled. This is a small-scale

Advertisement

version of the work which omits the spoken Prologue and the final hallo. For the larger-scale version try the recently reissued 1970 recording by Charles Mackerras with Tatiana Troyanos, Hermann Prey, Paul Esswood and Arleen Auger in the Archiv Codex series. As one might expect, the 1970 textures are less ‘clean’ and there is slightly too much tambourine in the choruses, but the singing reminds us that true artists from any period have a special ability to draw the listener in. Anthony Pryer