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Rousset: Traetta – Antigona (2 CD, APE)

Rousset: Traetta - Antigona (2 CD, APE)
Rousset: Traetta - Antigona (2 CD, APE)

Performer: Maria Bayo, Laura Polverelli, Carlo Allemano, Anna Maria Panzarella, Gilles Ragon
Orchestra: Les Talens Lyriques, Choeur de Chambre Accentus
Conductor: Christophe Rousset
Composer: Tommaso Traetta
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 2
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Decca
Size: 587 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Antigona, opera
Composed by Tommaso Traetta
with Maria Bayo, Anna-Maria Panzarella, Les Talens Lyriques, Gilles Ragon, Laura Polverelli
Conducted by Christophe Rousset


This is a marvelous work, here rescued (hopefully) from obscurity by an impassioned and technically impeccable recording. Traetta and his librettist (Marco Coltellini, who for once is given full credit in the accompanying booklet) are revealed to be loosening effectively the traditional constraints of opera seria to produce a work which is both more exciting and better theatre than what had gone before. In this their reforms strike me as being more effective than those trumpeted by their close contemporary, Gluck. The main feature is far more reliance on duets and ensemble writing rather than using the leaden hand of the exit aria, and a better and more exciting musical integration of the recitatives to the musical numbers, partly through the use of more imaginative accompaniment, than had been the norm.
Though Traetta may not be one of the very front rank of composers, his music has character and substance as well as flair. In this recording he exhibits real flair for vocal writing, particularly for soprano voices individually and in combination. The result is an eminently satisfactory musical work.
The performance here is first rate. Christophe Rousset and Les Talens Lyrique give an impassioned, totally involved, and convincing account of the work. It even surpasses the splendid recording they achieved recently of Mozart’s Mithradate. Throughout this production sounds to me “just right”. The singing is magnificent by all the principals, with Maria Bayo in the title role in particular turning in a brilliant performance. Though the voices are not as stunning as those in Mithradate – Bayo is not Dessay and Polverelli (who takes the male high-voice role) is not Bartoli – here we do have singing and ensemble work of very high order indeed.
What is revealed by this recording is that there really are lost treasures which, given a full and sympathetic treatment, can stand on their own as works of art and command tremendous respect. How one hopes that this will become a trend so that first rate performances with proper rehearsal and recording of now obscure work becomes more the norm than yet more recordings of the operatic potboilers!

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