OPERA NEWS - L’Ormindo
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CAVALLI: L’Ormindo

spacer Révidat, Léger, Piau, Deshayes; Oro, Visse, Crook, Lombard, Bona, Arnould. Les Paladins; Correas. Libretto and translation. Pan Classics 10330 (2)

Recordings Lormindo cover 815

The operas of Lombard composer Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676), which in large part had their premieres in Venice, reentered the international repertory in the 1960s and ‘70s, albeit usually in very corrupt musical editions. L’Ormindo (1644) and La Calisto (1651) in particular gained some currency. Still, they are relatively rarities outside the festival circuit, though both London and Dublin have witnessed studio productions of the former this year. Pan Classics’ reissued set dates from 2006 and definitely represented a huge advance over Raymond Leppard’s pioneering Glyndebourne effort, nicely cast but distortingly embellished and orchestrated.

Jérôme Correas, with his ensemble, Les Paladins, offer good playing, recorded with clarity, and a generally fine ensemble of singers alert to historically informed practice. Pan Classics bills the internationally known Sandrine Piau first; she takes the allegorical role of L’Armonia (Harmony) in the six and one-half minute prologue, singing with pure tone and fine style if rather recessive Italian diction. Indeed, there is a distinct Gallic tone to the set’s verbal flavor; the musically, phrasing gently sonorous Spanish countertenor Martin Oro in the title part is the main exception. 

By the time of recording American tenor Howard Crook, long resident and active in France, sounds rather longer on style than on tonal dolcezza; but Crook invests the role of Amida — Ormindo’s fellow warrior and friend but romantic rival — with class and good line. The lead soprano parts here are Erisbe (Stéphanie Révidat), the Mauretanian queen, unhappily wed to King Hariadeno (Jacques Bona) and whom both Ormindo and Amida covet, and Princess Sicle (Magali Léger), Amida’s former beloved, who stages a fake suicide and — centuries before Menotti — a fake séance to get him back. Léger tends to swell up her tone at some point in most phrases, often rendering her declamation unpleasantly mannered; Révidat handles both recit and cantilena more pleasantly, but both sopranos too frequently push disturbingly sharp for expression.

L’Ormindo takes place in Fez (in present day Morocco, then occupied by Mauretania) but features of Venetian life characterize the action. The complicated plot of stratagems and ruses leads its tortuous though mellifluous way to an improbable lieto fine of forgiveness, recognition and reconciliation. The many actants include Sicle’s page Nerillo (Domnique Visse, as incisive as ever and then still liquid of tone), her nurse and co-conspirator Erice (tenor Jean-François Lombard, camping it up in informed style), Hariadeno’s captain Osmano (Benoît Arnould) and his beloved Mirinda (Karine Deshayes), who prevents him from carrying out the king’s vengeful plan to poison Erisbe and Ormindo when they elope — a good thing, as Ormindo turns out to be the king’s long lost son. The fine mezzo of Deshayes sounds lively and characterful. Basses Bona and Arnould (fresher-toned) serve their parts with conviction. This accomplished set represents Cavalli’s achievement very creditably. spacer


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