~ HWV 14 ~

DG-Archiv 477 6566
3 CDs
full price
Recorded in 2005.
Released in 2007.

Floridante: Marijana Mijanović, contralto
Elmira: Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano
Timante: Roberta Invernizzi, soprano
Rossane: Sharon Rostorf-Zamir, soprano
Oronte: Vito Priante, bass
Coralbo: Riccardo Novaro, baritone

Il Complesso Barocco (on period instruments)
Director: Alan Curtis





Floridante was first performed in December 1721. It is one of those operas composed during the first years of the Royal Academy of Music and whose fame has suffered unfairly in the shadow of the Giulio Cesare Tamerlano - Rodelinda trilogy of 1724-25. Floridante is not a weak work, nor does it lack the deep dramatic sense characteristic of Handel’s operas, nor his melodic inspiration. Among the most superb moments of the opera we can name Floridante’s first aria ‘Alma mia’, the Elmira-Floridante duet ‘Ah mia cara’, or Elmira’s arioso ‘Notte cara’.

Once more one has to question the wisdom of casting Marijana Mijanovic in the primo uomo part. She possesses a recognizable timbre, a real presence, and a certain sense of drama which works quite well in the recitatives. But the vocal performances are so erratic that those qualities are definitely not sufficient to explain her singing the main part. The vocal registers are totally uneven, the voice doesn’t stay in its place, the sound production is tight, the highest notes are tense, the lowest ones often crushed, the vibrato is forced and totally unnatural, the sustain is irregular and the whole is often out of tune and sometimes off the beat. Her arias are sometimes bearable (‘Tacerò ma non potrai’ in the second act and ‘Se dolce m’era già’ in the third do work), but are sometimes really bad (for example the long note at the beginning of ‘Alma mia’, though not that long, is totally unattainable by her).

Though some tempi seem to be too uniform and some instrumental accents lack relief, Alan Curtis’s ‘Handel in moderation’ is appreciable and works well. The solid, judicious, expressive and clever singing of Joyce DiDonato is probably less ‘spectacular’ and commercial than Mijanovic’s misguided ways, but calls for praise. Though the rest of the cast is almost as excellent, I can’t avoid listening to Nicholas McGegan (Hungaroton, 1990, one of his weakest Handelian recordings) with relief. Mijanovic’s performance here means that I really don’t know what to think of this new recording...

© Philippe Gelinaud - July 2007

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