Tag: Lemieux

Handel – Giulio Cesare / Lemieux, Gauvin, Basso et al. / Il Complesso Barocco / Curtis (2)

(Previous section here.)

A point of gratuitous textual background. Handel’s librettist, Nicola Francesco Haym* based his text on an earlier version of the drama by Giacomo Francesco Bussani; Haym cut several roles and removed some sequences that were (I quote the booklet) “in doubtful taste.” Apparently in the original Sesto disguised himself as his own mother in order to sneak up on Tolomeo and catch him unawares; Cornelia also had – the booklet doesn’t explain why, but I suppose we can all come up with something – to dress up as a eunuch for a while. On balance, I think Haym’s judgment was probably sound.

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Handel – Giulio Cesare / Lemieux, Gauvin, Basso et al. / Il Complesso Barocco / Curtis (1)

71NcjICBU-L._SL1429_Giulio Cesare can turn out quite the taco party by operatic standards, especially if you cast an alto as Nireno, as this recording does. I wonder if anyone has ever gone the whole way and had a female Tolomeo too? Might be interesting. Out of eight vocal roles, only two, Achilla and Curio, pretty much have to be sung by men. Though the convention of the countertenor Tolomeo really is fine by me – nothing wrong with a little variety in timbre, and there are certainly plenty of good countertenors out there in the world.

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Just finished listening to that CD of baroque laments by Haïm and company. It’s a series of little pieces for solo voice and chamber accompaniment, with one or two ensembles, performed by a variety of singers with Le Concert d’Astrée It begins and ends with Rolando Villazón, which strikes me as unfair, since if someone is going to get two solo turns, I’d rather it be Jaroussky, or DiDonato, or Lemieux or Gens or Lehtipuu. I have no quarrel in any deep way with Rolando Villazón. I am merely pointing out that even within the constraints of this particular recording there are other options.

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Vivaldi – Orlando Furioso / Lemieux, Larmore, Cangemi, Jaroussky 2011 (1)

I have dealt with this opera before. And most of the people in this performance have too. There is an audio recording of it from 2004 which has most of the same principals: Marie-Nicole Lemieux as Orlando (“the knight who lapses into French when he goes really mad”), Jennifer Larmore (Alcina), Veronica Cangemi (Angelica) and Philippe Jaroussky (Ruggiero). But here you can see them as well as hear them, and it’s totally worth it.

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Handel: Streams of Pleasure – Lemieux / Gauvin / Il Complesso Barocco / Alan Curtis

The material on this recording is all new to me. I’m fairly familiar with Handel’s operas, but not the oratorios. And the impression I get from the excerpts performed here is of something that is like opera but distinct from it. This is music that maintains a certain level of decorum. The characters are mostly biblical figures of varying degrees of obscurity, with a few additions from classical mythology. There is something a little dusty about this music, but if you can work yourself around to liking — or even just appreciating — dustiness, Karina Gauvin, Marie-Nicole Lemieux and Il Complesso Barocco make it very easy to enjoy.

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