Landi: La morte d’Orfeo

COMPOSERS: Landi
LABELS: Zig Zag
ALBUM TITLE: Landi
WORKS: La morte d’Orfeo
PERFORMER: Cyril Auvity, Guillemette Laurens, Dominique Visse, Damien Guillon et al; Akadêmia/Françoise Lasserre
CATALOGUE NO: ZZT 070402
This opera tells the story of Orpheus being torn to shreds by the Furies and taken up to be immortalised in the stars by Apollo. Its 20 characters are here distributed between 13 singers.

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Some of these singers are good. Guillemette Laurens as Calliope and Damien Guillon as Fosforo have the responsibility of narrating the harrowing death of Orpheus in a convincing manner which they do musically and to great effect. Cyril Auvity is a stylish Orpheus, but more poised than passionate. As always, Dominique Visse brings an extra dimension of animation and realism to his roles, Bacchus and Charon. There is some spectacular choral and ensemble writing, but it tends to be a little beyond the performers – the Three Breezes in Act I are a bit squeaky, and the Furies are not so much furious as mildly miffed. The instrumental items, though, are excellent and resonantly recorded. This important and interesting work shows that not all the early developments in opera were down to Monteverdi. Stephen Stubbs recorded it in 1987 on the Accent label. His performance is faster, more tightly controlled and with better choruses, though it lacks the pastoral lyricism required in some scenes.

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Anthony Pryer