Monteverdi: Orfeo

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Monteverdi
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Orfeo
PERFORMER: Gino Quilico, Audrey Michael, Carolyn Watkinson; Chapelle Royale Vocal Ensemble, Lyons Opera Orchestra/ Michel Corboz
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-96958-2 DDD Reissue
Few areas of recording activity have seen as many changes over recent decades as the operas of Claudio Monteverdi, with each new set incorporating the latest thoughts on performance practice and historical context. Reissues, therefore, tend to wear a dated air, and that is certainly so with Michel Corboz’s second recording of the piece, made in 1985. Granted that there is much musical expertise and even grace in the performance, the rather motley cast employs a variety of approaches only intermittently appropriate to what we now think of as period style.

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Orpheus, Gino Quilico, is here a baritone rather than the expected tenor, and though he sounds surprisingly comfortable with the range, his Monteverdi may strike some as less Monte than Verdi. Several members of the cast, like Quilico, have more recently become familiar in other contexts. Colette Alliot-Lugaz makes a positive impression as Music, François Le Roux is pleasing as the First Shepherd and First Spirit, and Carolyn Watkinson is an eloquent exponent of the Messenger. Though the Proserpine (Danielle Borst) is likeable, Frangiskos Voutsinos sounds blowsy as Pluto and Charon and the Eurydice (Audrey Michael) is colourless.

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The sound is bright and forward; the libretto is printed in unhelpfully tiny type. George Hall