Telemann: Flavious Bertaridus

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COMPOSERS: Georg Philipp Telemann
LABELS: Deutsch Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Telemann Flavius Bertaridus
WORKS: Flavius Bertaridus
PERFORMER: Maite Beaumont, Nina Bernsteiner, Ann-Beth Solvang, Antonio Abete, Katerina Tretyakova, Jürgen Sacher, David DQ Lee, Mélissa Petit; Academia Montis Regalis/Alessandro de Marchi
CATALOGUE NO: 88691926052

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During the years between 1722 and 1738 when Telemann was director of Hamburg’s Gänsemarkt theatre, he produced operas by Keiser, Handel and others, besides several of his own. One of these was the 1729 Flavius Bertaridus, König der Langobarden, which has delightfully varied music and a complicated plot. This world-premiere live recording with a few cuts derives from performances given at the 2011 Innsbruck Festival.

The action takes place in 7th-century Italy where the evil dictator Grimoaldus has murdered the rightful king of the Lombards and driven his brother Flavius Bertaridus into exile, holding his wife, Rodelinda, and their son as hostages. In keeping with Hamburg tradition, Telemann set the recitatives in German so that his compatriots could understand the plot but left some of the arias in the original Italian on which the German libretto is based.

In Flavius Bertaridus Telemann and his co-librettist Gottlieb Wend made an effort to present their public with a real opera seria as opposed to the lighter fare with comic scenes so beloved of Hamburg audiences. That the work was indifferently received should not dull our ears to the engaging music, which is characteristically eclectic in style. Almost every imaginable instrument makes an appearance including sopranino recorders, three different members of the oboe family, a chalumeau, trumpets and drums. Conductor Alessandro de Marchi has assembled a somewhat uneven cast of singers of whom Maîte Beaumont, in the title role and Nina Bernsteiner are perhaps the most consistently rewarding, Ann-Beth Solvang and Jürgen Sacher less so. Duets and choruses add to the customary mix of recitatives and arias. Mainly very enjoyable.

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Nicholas Anderson