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Leonardo García Alarcón|Dido and Aeneas

Dido and Aeneas

Henry Purcell

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In the program notes for this recording of Dido and Aeneas, conductor Leonardo García Alarcón makes a persuasive scholarly and analytical case for his many unconventional performance choices, but listeners should be forewarned that this is not a version of the opera for the faint of heart or for committed traditionalists. Most noticeably, this performance, which features the Geneva-based ensembles La Nouvelle Ménestrandie and Cappella Mediterranea, makes Dido and Aeneas seem like a very big opera, something on the order of Il Trovatore in its wrenching intensity, if not in its length. Alarcón's augmentation of the orchestra with oboes and bassoons doubling the strings in some places, as he argues Purcell would have done, is partly accountable for its enlarged sense of scale. Equally significant is the ferocity with which both the singers and players tear into their parts and the extremity of some of the characterizations. Dido and the Sorceress, for instance, express their anguish and hatred, respectively, by bending pitches to a degree rarely heard in "classical" music settings, and the Witches sing in creaky, crone-like character voices. It should be remembered that "baroque" was originally a term of derision meaning something misshapen or distorted, the equivalent of wagging the finger and saying, "you've gone too far this time!" That may be exactly the reaction of some listeners, but whether you're appalled or beguiled, this is a Dido and Aeneas that's likely to keep you on the edge of your seat with suspense.
Few performances of the opera have so clearly delineated its arch-shaped trajectory; it opens with Dido lamenting the possibility of Aeneas' inconstancy and ends with her lamenting its actuality, and in this recording just about everything that transpires between the laments happens at a fever pitch of musical and dramatic tension. The fact that Alarcón is able to create and sustain the performance's intensity is a testimony not only to his vision and skill but to the willingness of the musicians to throw themselves so wholeheartedly into the venture. Every role, even the smallest, demonstrates the singers' investment in their parts. They all sing beautifully and powerfully, and manage to convey a verismo-like theatricality while operating (more or less) within the bounds of accepted Baroque performance practice. Aeneas can easily come across as a cipher, but Alejandro Meerapfel gives him substance, someone about whom the Queen of Carthage could believably get worked up. Countertenor Fabián Schofrin is a weird, sinister Sorceress. As Belinda, Yeree Suh sings with exceptional warmth, clarity, and sweetness. Solenn' Lavanant Linke's soprano is sumptuous and creamy, and she makes a regal but womanly Dido. The orchestra plays with aching expressivity and the continuo realizations are marvelously inventive. The recording is vividly present and is miked at a high level for a classical album, which also contributes to its unusually large sense of scale. Highly recommended.

© TiVo

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Dido and Aeneas

Leonardo García Alarcón

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Dido and Aeneas (Henry Purcell)

1
Overture
00:02:49

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

2
Shake the cloud from off your brow
00:01:03

Yeree Suh, soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

3
Ah! Belinda, I am prest with torment
00:03:15

Solenn Lavanant-Linke, mezzo-soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

4
Grief increases by concealing
00:00:32

Yeree Suh, soprano - Solenn Lavanant-Linke, mezzo-soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

5
When monarchs unite
00:00:15

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

6
Whence could so much virtue spring
00:01:59

Yeree Suh, soprano - Solenn Lavanant-Linke, mezzo-soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

7
Fear no danger
00:01:20

Yeree Suh, soprano - Mariana Flores, soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

8
See, your royal guest appears
00:00:54

Yeree Suh, soprano - Alejandro Meerapfel, baritone - Solenn Lavanant-Linke, mezzo-soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

9
Cupid only throws the dart
00:00:32

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

10
If not for mine
00:00:31

Alejandro Meerapfel, baritone - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

11
Pursue thy conquest, Love
00:00:44

Yeree Suh, soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

12
To the hills and the vales
00:01:19

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

13
Triumphing dance
00:01:10

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

14
Prelude for the Witches
00:01:53

Fabian Schofrin, counter-tenor - Magali Arnault, soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

15
Harm's our delight
00:00:14

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

16
The Queen of Carthage
00:00:25

Fabian Schofrin, counter-tenor - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

17
Ho ho ho! (1)
00:00:10

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

18
Ruin'd ere the set of sun
00:00:58

Magali Arnault, soprano - Mariana Flores, soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

19
Ho ho ho! (2)
00:00:09

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

20
But ere we this perform
00:01:10

Magali Arnault, soprano - Mariana Flores, soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

21
In our deep vaulted cell
00:01:17

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

22
Echo Dance of the Fairies
00:00:52

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

23
Ritornelle
00:00:42

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

24
Thanks to these lonesome vales
00:02:29

Yeree Suh, soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

25
Oft she visits this lone mountain
00:01:36

Mariana Flores, soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

26
Behold, upon my bending spear
00:00:33

Alejandro Meerapfel, baritone - Solenn Lavanant-Linke, mezzo-soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

27
Haste, haste to town
00:00:47

Yeree Suh, soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

28
Stay, Prince
00:02:48

Christophe Carré, counter-tenor - Alejandro Meerapfel, baritone - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

29
Prelude
00:01:22

Valerio Contaldo, tenor - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

30
Sailor's dance
00:00:36

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

31
See the flags
00:01:00

Fabian Schofrin, counter-tenor - Magali Arnault, soprano - Mariana Flores, soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

32
Our next motion
00:00:51

Magali Arnault, soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

33
Destruction's our delight
00:00:32

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

34
Witche's Dance
00:01:26

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

35
Your counsel all
00:04:54

Alejandro Meerapfel, baritone - Yeree Suh, soprano - Solenn Lavanant-Linke, mezzo-soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

36
Great minds against themselves conspire
00:00:56

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

37
Thy hand, Belinda
00:00:43

Solenn Lavanant-Linke, mezzo-soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

38
When I am laid in earth
00:03:14

Solenn Lavanant-Linke, mezzo-soprano - La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

39
With drooping wings
00:04:34

La Nouvelle Menestrandie - Cappella Mediterranea - Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, conductor

Album review

In the program notes for this recording of Dido and Aeneas, conductor Leonardo García Alarcón makes a persuasive scholarly and analytical case for his many unconventional performance choices, but listeners should be forewarned that this is not a version of the opera for the faint of heart or for committed traditionalists. Most noticeably, this performance, which features the Geneva-based ensembles La Nouvelle Ménestrandie and Cappella Mediterranea, makes Dido and Aeneas seem like a very big opera, something on the order of Il Trovatore in its wrenching intensity, if not in its length. Alarcón's augmentation of the orchestra with oboes and bassoons doubling the strings in some places, as he argues Purcell would have done, is partly accountable for its enlarged sense of scale. Equally significant is the ferocity with which both the singers and players tear into their parts and the extremity of some of the characterizations. Dido and the Sorceress, for instance, express their anguish and hatred, respectively, by bending pitches to a degree rarely heard in "classical" music settings, and the Witches sing in creaky, crone-like character voices. It should be remembered that "baroque" was originally a term of derision meaning something misshapen or distorted, the equivalent of wagging the finger and saying, "you've gone too far this time!" That may be exactly the reaction of some listeners, but whether you're appalled or beguiled, this is a Dido and Aeneas that's likely to keep you on the edge of your seat with suspense.
Few performances of the opera have so clearly delineated its arch-shaped trajectory; it opens with Dido lamenting the possibility of Aeneas' inconstancy and ends with her lamenting its actuality, and in this recording just about everything that transpires between the laments happens at a fever pitch of musical and dramatic tension. The fact that Alarcón is able to create and sustain the performance's intensity is a testimony not only to his vision and skill but to the willingness of the musicians to throw themselves so wholeheartedly into the venture. Every role, even the smallest, demonstrates the singers' investment in their parts. They all sing beautifully and powerfully, and manage to convey a verismo-like theatricality while operating (more or less) within the bounds of accepted Baroque performance practice. Aeneas can easily come across as a cipher, but Alejandro Meerapfel gives him substance, someone about whom the Queen of Carthage could believably get worked up. Countertenor Fabián Schofrin is a weird, sinister Sorceress. As Belinda, Yeree Suh sings with exceptional warmth, clarity, and sweetness. Solenn' Lavanant Linke's soprano is sumptuous and creamy, and she makes a regal but womanly Dido. The orchestra plays with aching expressivity and the continuo realizations are marvelously inventive. The recording is vividly present and is miked at a high level for a classical album, which also contributes to its unusually large sense of scale. Highly recommended.

© TiVo

Details of original recording : Enregistré à Genève, Conservatoire de Musique, en 2009

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