Alan Curtis’ take on Handel’s “Ariodante” with Joyce DiDonato in the title role has hit the (virtual) shelves over here – it’s available from amazon.de as a triple disc set (€30) and as mp3-download (€20).
Surprisingly, the first two buyer reviews are overall negative.
Then again, if a reviewer “longs for a countertenor” as Polinesso when there’s a true contralto at hand may not really represent my musical tastes (especially if calling Lemieux “boring” and “matronly”) or those dominant on this blog.
I’ll reserve judgment until after hearing the set (which may be a while), but after the “Alcina” with much the same team has turned into a household staple (it was running again for breakfast earlier), I would be surprised if “Ariodante” were an overall disappointment (whether it can rival THE Minkowski reading or Archiv with von Otter and Podlès is another question).
First of all, there’s Joyce DiDonato -adjectives would be a moot point – who has proven more than once that she can handle Handel both technically and dramatically, including a full stage run as Ariodante in Geneva in 2007 (thank God for YouTube, though not for the geoblocking mania going on there these days), her “Furore” recording and her taking on the lead in Curtis’ “Alcina” recording. If anything, I was more skeptical of her taking on Alcina, which turned out to be excellent (and my kitchen vouches or it, too). So I for one can’t wait to get my hands and ears onto this Ariodante.
Then, there’s the dazzling Karina Gauvin as Ginevra (sorry, but this can’t be anything but very good in my mind’s ear!), the sonorous Marie-Nicole Lemieux as Polinesso – last seen and heard on Paris stages in spring as an impressive Vivaldi Orlando – and melt-me-on-the-spot tenor Topi Lehtipuu as Lurcanio.
Have you heard the recording already? What is your opinion? Have you stumbled upon any other reviews yet?