Amor e Gelosia: Duets (Handel)

Virgin Veritas #5456282
Patrizia Ciofi (soprano), Joyce Di Donato (mezzo); Alan Curtis (conductor), Il Complesso Barocco.
01 Caro/Dolce amico amplesso, 02 Scherzano/Ridono, 03 Non ti basto...Io t'abbraccio, 04 Mio deletto, che pensi? Sol per te, 05 Per le porte del tormento, 06 Del destin non mi lagno...Caro/Cara tu m'accendi, 07 Amarilli, Amarilli?...Amarilli/Oh Dei, 08 Vivo senz'alma, 09 Finche prendi, 10 Perfidi!...Se mai piu, 11 Macedoni guerrieri...Se mai turbo, 12 Sinfonia to Poro Act III, 13 Gran pena e gelosia, 14 Lode agli dei...Se mai turbo/Se mai piu, 15 Alma mia/Dolce ristoro, 16 Ricordati mio ben, 17 Addio, mio caro bene.
Recorded in June 2003; released in June 2004.
REVIEWS:

"The performances of this marvelous music by Patrizia Ciofi and Joyce Di Donato can be summed up in a single word — glorious. From the outset, the singing is suffused with a warmth, tonal richness, and dramatic conviction that carry the listener on a wave of near-ecstatic enchantment, the voices blending as if in a combination preordained by heaven." Fanfare

"Handel always had a wonderful feeling for the human voice, and more than doubly wonderful when it comes to two of them. The duets in his operas are the special treats, coming at climactic points – most often, two lovers’ supposedly final parting, or their ultimate reunion. The dissonances that so poignantly convey the lovers’ grief, the echoes with subtle inflections in sense, the way one voice floats free while the other remains captive, the mellifluous thirds and sixths – all these, and much more, make for some of the most emotional music, some searingly so, some balm-laden, that Handel (or anyone else) ever wrote. [...] All are most beautifully sung by Patrizia Ciofi and Joyce DiDonato, who has just the right firmness and focus for a castrato role (as the mezzo voices almost always are here); both phrase beautifully, and articulate and express the words so clearly and so tellingly. They ornament the da capo sections in a natural and tasteful fashion. The accompaniments, done by a chamber group under Alan Curtis with much refined timing of detail, add to the pleasures of this truly delectable CD. Indeed, listening to it is a bit like eating a meal of delicious puddings." Gramophone

"Thirteen of Handel's Italian operas are represented in this wonderfully enjoyable collection of duets, in which the bright, incisive soprano of Patrizia Ciofi is beautifully enmeshed with the plushier mezzo of Joyce Di Donato." Guardian

"Even in a golden age of Handel singing, you would go far to hear more stylish and involving performances than these. Patrizia Ciofi's bell-like high soprano blends beautifully with Joyce Di Donato's rich yet never plummy mezzo. And they bring a vivid sense of character to each of these marvellous pieces, whether in the sorrowfully entwining suspensions of the Rodelinda number or the impassioned declamation of the duet from Atalanta. A winner." Daily Telegraph

"Soprano Patrizia Ciofi and mezzo Joyce Di Donato (Virgin Veritas). Love and jealousy make the opera world turn. These two sumptuous-voiced and unabashedly emotional women - a major new diva, Ciofi is on this list three times - sing with radiance and voguish style." Atlanta Journal

"The vocal duties, though, are split between soprano Patrizia Ciofi -- stylish but breathy and tonally unfocused -- and the robust and vibrant singing of mezzo-soprano Joyce Di Donato. The textures that result are plush and delightful when the women sing together, but oddly imbalanced when they play off each other -- the contrast between Ciofi's pallor and Di Donato's power keeps getting in the way." SF Chronicle

"Under the practiced hand of Alan Curtis, soprano Patrizia Ciofi and mezzo Joyce DiDonato sing this repertoire with a full-out gusto that stays within the confines of clarity but bursts with emotion. Ciofi's soprano works the most magic when she is floating, which she does in a spinning head-voice. She can also fire off the necessary coloratura when she wants. DiDonato is more direct, with a clear, sturdy tone, and this proves a terrific contrast as the pairs of lovers in these duets both quarrel and console. The singers' ensemble work is at a high level: both sing with rhythmic acuity and emotional availability, and their final unisons are a delight as the two voices get lost in each other." Opera News Sep-04

"Her silvery voice is exciting yet steady, its supple brilliance well suited to Handel's technical demands and his characters' various temperaments. Ms. DiDonato's sound is no less attractive, her timbre like topsoil, rich and earthy. And her dramatic skills are equally compelling." NYT 11-Jul-04

"The Italian soprano and the American mezzo are two of the outstanding singers of a rising generation, prized primarily for their prowess in later music (Ciofi as Gilda or Lucia; Di Donato as Cenerentola or Rosina). On this evidence, they belong to the elite of current Handel singers, too: their voices intertwine rapturously, like mating snakes, in the love duets from Rodelinda (1725), Orlando (1733) and, above all, the beautiful Per le porte del tormento, from Sosarme (1732), one of Handel's greatest inspirations in the genre. With her keen edged but never shrill soprano, Ciofi (above, on left) blends surprisingly well with Di Donato's plusher mezzo, and their stylistic instincts are immaculate. No Handelian will want to miss this superlative singing, and anyone yet to be hooked by this gorgeous music will be bowled over." Sunday Times 4-Jul-04

"Elles s'enlacent, se frottent l'une à l'autre, feignent l'indifférence pour mieux se retrouver: Patrizia Ciofi (soprano) et Joyce Di Donato (mezzo-soprano) explorent toutes les facettes de l'amour. [...] La première éblouit par son chant si ductile et épanoui (en particulier dans l'aigu), tandis que la seconde se distingue par un timbre naturellement corsé. Entre amour et jalousie, elles creusent les profils psychologiques des personnages avec un bonheur illimité." Le Temps

"Rinaldo et Silla brillent par une maîtrise des trilles et du souffle digne des plus grandes vocalistes, alors que messa di voce souveraine, volutes et mélismes enivrants font de Sosarme une des grandes réussites de ce disque. [...] De fait, il est difficile de distinguer les prestations de Patrizia Ciofi et de Joyce Di Donato tant elles ne font qu'un. On pouvait craindre que de telles personnalités ne se marchent dessus. Leur rencontre fait des étincelles : dans les duos d'amour ou de déploration, certes, mais aussi dans ceux où s'expriment la haine et la jalousie, la fusion et l'entente sont idéale." Forum Opera

"Quelle idée fabuleuse surtout lorsque l’on dispose pour ce projet de deux chanteuses du rang de Patrizia Ciofi et Joyce Di Donato. Deux cantatrices dotées chacune d’un timbre superbe, charnu et rond, homogène sur toute l’étendue, sans failles techniquement et très à l’aise stylistiquement ; deux artistes capables d’exprimer mille nuances et couleurs, sachant traduire les affects baroques sans aucun maniérisme ; deux voix enfin qui semblent être faites pour chanter ensemble, qui se marient de façon admirable, touchante, émouvante." ResMusica

"Beide Sängerinnen bringen ausdrucksstarke, unverwechselbare Stimmen mit. Ciofis Sopran ist hell timbriert, beweglich und hat eine strahlende Höhe, die sie mit Leichtigkeit erklimmt. Joyce Di Donatos Mezzosopran hingegen hat eine angenehme Wärme, eine vollklingende Resonanz mit deutlicher Artikulation und harmoniert vortrefflich mit der leichteren Stimme Ciofis. Das Zusammenspiel beider ist äußerst gelungen, voller Ausdruck, stilistisch stets sicher und variabel. Gesangstechnisch sind beide so selbstverständlich auf höchstem Niveau, dass man diese CD einigen ihrer Kolleginnen als Hörbeispiel geben sollte." Klassik

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