Vivaldi, Griselda, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Verónica Cangemi, Simone Kermes, Ensemble Matheus, Jean-Christophe Spinosi (released on October 31, 2006)
The story is a popular one, told memorably by Dioneo as the tenth tale on the tenth day of Boccaccio's Decameron. Familiar with the Florentine's book, Geoffrey Chaucer made a version in English, the Clerk's Tale in his Canterbury Tales. Later, Charles Perrault got his hands on the story and made a rhymed conte called Griselidis (in English translation). The title character is a sweet and pure girl from a poor family, who gets married to a wealthy man. The husband decides to test his wife's faith and patient love in a particularly cruel way, pretending to kill the children she bears because of his dissatisfaction but really just sending them away with trusted servants. She bears it all patiently, even accepting to be sent away herself, back to her father and wearing only a smock.
Tito Manlio (2006)
Arie d'opera, with Sandrine Piau (2005)
Orlando finto pazzo (2004)
La verità in cimento (2003)
Juditha Triumphans (2001)
The singing on this recording is exceptionally fine, particularly from the women. Quebécois contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Griselda) channels the unusual voice of Anna Girò, Vivaldi's protegée (or mistress, as detractors often accused). La Girò was said to have a voice that was not all that extraordinary, but her acting was by report extremely dramatic. Appropriately, Griselda's Act I aria Brami le mie catene reflects her tendencies, with loud outbursts alternating with sudden stops. Lemieux, whose voice is quite extraordinary, almost spits with rage in the Act II accompanied recitative Va' pur, sazia l'ingorda, as Griselda resolves not to give in to Ottone's advances even though he is threatening to kill her young son.
As Costanza, Griselda's long-lost daughter and supposed bride of Gualtiero, Argentinian soprano Verónica Cangemi makes some gorgeous sounds in Ritorna a lusingarmi (Act I). Her Agitata a due venti, the Act II aria that is probably the most familiar piece in the opera, is a stunning rendition of this very difficult aria, with appropriately blustery instrumental sounds from the Ensemble Matheus. At this breakneck tempo, Cangemi's agility is more impressive than a larger voice like, say, Sumi Jo, but one does wish for a little more power to come roaring out of her occasionally. The lilting A section of Costanza's Act III aria Ombre vane, ingiusti orrori is a tender moment of chamber music sound.
Tenor Stefano Ferrari (Gualtiero) has a resonant voice with good high notes, and he gets almost all of the fioriture, although with occasional imprecision, for example, in Se ria procella sorge dall'onde (Act I). Iestyn Davies (Corrado) has a blessedly unshrill sound for a countertenor, one of the most convincingly feminine countertenor voices I have heard. Listen for the blockbuster aria Alle minacce di fiera belva, near the end of Act I, where the horns sound great and the strings make percussive sounds (col legno?) in this fast and rhythmic aria. He also shines in the Act II La rondinella amante. His colleague, Philippe Jaroussky, has a more typical countertenor sound, a little nasal and hooty, but with admirable agility. All in all, this recording is warmly recommended.
Naïve OP 30419