Arthaus Musik 100 388
Region codes 2, 4, 5
Kultur International D2908
Region code 1
Rinaldo: David Daniels
Almirena: Deborah York
Armida: Noëmi Nadelmann
Argante: Eglis Silins
Goffredo: David Walkers
Eustazio: Axel Köhler
Mago cristiano, Araldo: Charles Maxwell
Bayerischer Staatsoper München (on modern instruments)
Harry Bicket (conductor)
David Alden (stage director)
Paul Steinberg (scenery)
Buki Shiff (costumes)
Recorded in 2001.*
Released in 2003.
- Picture format: 16:9.
- Sound format: PCM stereo, Dolby digital 5.1, DTS 5.1.
- Special features: “Handel, the entertainer”, a film by Reiner Moritz.
Rinaldo’s libretto, based on Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata, relates the siege of Jerusalem, during the first Crusade, by the Christian army lead by Godefroy de Bouillon. In this production, Goffredo is a preacher – nice suit and white teeth – who seems to be in conflict with the vamp Armida and her night club called “Gerusalemme”. Argante is the Saracen bouncer of the night club and particularly resistant to Goffredo’s speech. Almirena, Goffredo’s daughter, is a good looking maid who appears looking like a sort of Jeanne d’Arc but rapidly changes into a pom-pom girl. She is lusted after by Armida for her night club and is used by her father to manipulate or at least to motivate Rinaldo -- an Eliott Ness or Dick Tracy like hero. Note that Almirena’s capture, which precedes and triggers Rinaldo’s famous lament “Cara sposa”, looks like a tribute to Hitchcock’s Birds.
Therefore, you may already imagine that this is a very modern transposition of the story which offers a sort of satirical view of the society based on a rich and inventive staging. The transposition is pertinent but sometimes irritating, and loses its efficiency by looking like a junk room – with far too many visual references – and giving way to easy gags and roughly-sketched caricature. Maybe these abuses result from the fact that the stage director David Alden tends to make the work fit his new frame rather than adapting his frame to fit the work.
One of the highlights of this production is David Daniels. Though a tense tessitura, his performance as Rinaldo is of one of the best one can hear at the moment on CD or DVD. Deborah York is a very convincing Almirena whose grimaces and twitches fits her part – at least the way it is treated in Alden’s staging. Noëmi Nadelmann is a satisfying Armida and David Walker an excellent Goffredo in terms of acting, but his singing is more erratic. His utterance is sometimes fragile, sometimes tense, but his swiftness in “Mio cor, che mi sai dir” for example, is impressive. Eglis Silins lacks vocal flexibility but brings great physical presence to Argante. The weakest points of the cast are Charles Maxwell and his piercing voice, and Axel Köhler, whose vocal performance is of constant mediocrity. Yet such problems are not as crippling on video than on CD. Harry Bicket’s conducting is excellent, with notably judicious tempos.
*Recorded in 2001 at the Prinzregententheater, Munich.
© Philippe Gelinaud - June 2003
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