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Monteverdi: L'Orfeo Box set

4.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, November 9, 1987
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Editorial Reviews

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History's first great opera--the story of Orpheus descending to Hades to retrieve his bride Eurydice from the dead, only to lose her again--gets a fine performance (the best overall version currently available) from John Eliot Gardiner and his musicians. Anthony Rolfe Johnson performs the title role with all the beautiful sound you'd expect from an Orfeo; he negotiates virtuoso passages flawlessly and sings passionately without overwhelming Monteverdi's music with too much voice. Julianne Baird as Eurydice and Anne Sofie Von Otter in a gripping appearance as the Messenger are the standouts in a cast without a weak link. Everyone involved, including the chorus and orchestra, performs with such energy, beauty, and precision that even long stretches of recitative never pall. --Matthew Westphal
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Product Details

  • Performer: Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Lynne Dawson, English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir, Nancy Argenta, et al.
  • Orchestra: His Majesty's Sackbutts and Cornetts
  • Conductor: John Eliot Gardiner
  • Composer: Claudio Monteverdi
  • Audio CD (November 9, 1987)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Archiv
  • ASIN: B0000057CV
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,503 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This recording of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo is truly a spectacular work. I didn't really care for Baroque opera before I heard this. But now Monteverdi is my favorite operatic composer. Not only is the music beautiful but the singers are absolutely stunning. Anthony Rolfe Johnson is absolutely perfect for the title role. His soft yet clear tenor voice shows the passion and the emotion that Orfeo has for Eurydice. Lynne Dawson who sings La Musica has a good voice for introducing the opera. Anne Sofie von Otter who plays Messaggiera, has such a sorrowful and sad voice for her role which makes it all the more better. But the absolute best singer on this recording is John Tomlinson who sings Caronte or the Charon. John Tomlinson is also the voice of the Commendatore in the movie Amadeus. But his deep bass makes you wonder if its at all possible to get past him. But that's not the best part of the opera. The best part about the whole recording is the choir. All the choruses are to die for, especially the chorus "Lasicate i monti." It almost makes one want to dance. But I definitely reccommend this recording to all Baroque opera lovers, even for those who don't like opera.
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Format: Audio CD
Gardiner, again shows his skill with baroque vocal works. This, regarded as the first great Opera, is still one of the best. The pure singing style of the late renaissance/early Baroque is siblime and very different from Post Baroque opera writing most people are use to. The Aria 'Possente spirto' is 8 minutes of heavenly singing in Hades; here Orfeo fails to convince Charon to allow him entry to Hades, but this is one of the single most beautiful pieces of writing for voice I have ever heard.
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Format: Audio CD
MONTEVERDI'S MUSIC SUPERBLY PERFORMED UNDER GARDINER'S EXPERT GUIDANCE.
Monteverdi's "L'Orfeo" is considered to be the first masterpiece in the history of opera. Prior to this a handful of works by pioneers of the genre such as Peri, Cavalieri and Caccini explored the possibilities of the newly developed 'musical speech' as it were.

'Orfeo' was first performed at the Mantuan court in 1607. A unique aspect of this opera is its wealth of information about the use of the 'continuo orchestra'. It is this combination- the human voice of Orfeo and the 'heavenly hope' which accompanies him -that established opera as an art form that continues to favor us today.

The story of Orfeo goes on through many and varied composers who add and subtract details from the original ideas, but it retains the basic framework.

This opera in performance is begun by the character "La Musica", or music personified ,who delivers a long treatise which in essence proclaims how music can do many things to us emotionally. As this "fable of music" (Monteverdi called it) unfolds we are exposed to the whole gamut of human emotions,from the most euphoric to the most dejected,presented in musical language that is perhaps closer to impassioned speech than recitative has ever been, before or since.

The fact that Monteverdi's L'Orfeo has been referred to as the "first true opera in the history of music" has much to do with the fact that Monteverdi had the dramatic ability to synthesize the text, the stage and the music. And it was a favourable time historically and musically to do so. Moreover, he gave very specific directions as to how it would be put together.

And what better musician to record it than John Eliot Gardiner?
Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Monteverdi - L'Orfeo / Rolfe Johnson, Dawson, von Otter, Argenta, M. Nichols, Tomlinson, Chance, Baird; Gardiner is a splenid recording with the Monteverdi Choir, The English Baroque Soloist and His Majesties Sagbutts & Cornetts under the guidance of John Elliot Gardiner. Archiv Prouktion have done a great job with the sound quality and it truly sounds as if one is hearing this in person. The book-let is of a very high quality and one must say that Gardiner picked some amazing singers (Willard White and Ann Sofie Von Otter). The book-let is a massiv 124 pages long and is filled with many fine photographs, an excellent essay written Gardiner and the complete lyrics. This is a recording not to be missed. 5 well deserved stars.
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By A Customer on January 8, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I cannot add anything more to what the previous reviewer has written, other than to say that it is simply beautiful. I received this as a Christmas present and have been unable to listen to anything else. It is mesmerizing.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am not a big fan of Gardiner when it comes to some music, for instance Bach. I just think others do it better. However, Gardiner is a fine conductor of Monteverdi and this recording shows it. If you are not familiar with Baroque opera and want to find out how a first rate crew of performers sound with a major work of early opera, this is a great recording with which to start!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful late Renaissance/early Baroque opera, and a superb rendition of it! It grows like fine wine and I enjoy it more with each listen. I discover something new every time. Highly recommended introduction to Monteverdi and opera music in general!
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By A Customer on August 15, 2002
Format: Audio CD
No other performance in the market
today is as good as this one,a breath-taking
disc. The true Monteverdi experience......
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