HANDEL: Rinaldo, Blu-ray (2014)

by | Dec 12, 2015 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

HANDEL: Rinaldo, 2014, Blu-ray

Performers: Antonio Giovannini (Rinaldo), Gesche Geier (Armida), Friederike Schöder (Almirena), Florian Götz (Argante), Yosemeh Adjei (Goffredo), Owen Willetts (Eustazio) & Cornelius Uhle (Mago Cristiano), the Lautten Compagney Berlin and Compagnia Marionettistica Carlo Colla e Figli/ Wolfgang Katschner 
Studio: Arthaus DVD and Blu-ray (6/30/15) [Distr. by Naxos]
Video:  1.78:1 for 16:9, color 
Sound: PCM Stereo, DD 5.0
Language: Italian
Subtitles: GB, DE
Region: All Regions
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Length: 137:10
Rating: *****

Early music and an old craft – the charm of the stage and marionettes are unified in a spectacular performance of Handel’s magic opera Rinaldo by the Lautten Compagney, conducted by baroque specialist Wolfgang Katschner, and the puppet theatre Carlo Colla e Figli. The opera is not only full of splendid stretches of energizing, hummable music, it is also full of dragons and other terrifying mythological creatures, so if you want to introduce kids to classical music, or are a kid yourself, this is the opportunity of a lifetime to lose yourself in entirely guiltless Handelian pleasures.

The story even has some relevance to our current day, with the forces of Christendom arrayed against those of  the Saracens; it is nice to report that in Handel’s more polite world, the issue was resolved by love. Not, however, before a brilliantly sequenced series of musical events, many originally by Handel himself, many by others, including the iconic soprano aria, “Lascia ch’io pianga.” No wonder it was Handel’s first Italian opera for the London stage, and it was a brilliant success.

The singers, thoroughly and enthusiastically schooled in the authentic performance aesthetics give superb performances while standing behind the orchestra in the pit while looking at the fabulous marionettes on stage along with everyone else. The sound is full of energy, color, dimension and space. A bonus track features interviews and back stage footage; a complete 2CD audio recording is also included.

—Laurence Vittes

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