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Tassie Devil

Bd Opera: Handel's "tamerano"

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Disc Title: Tamerlano Disc catalog: Opus Arte OA BD7022 D Recording Date: 2008 Live from Teatro Real Madrid Program Length: 242 mins including extras of 24 mins on two discs

Video rating : 5/5 Audio type: PCM 2.0 & PCM 5.0 No mention of HD audio or bitrates Audio rating: 5/5

Overall rating: 5/5

Summary comment: Another superb production from Opus Arte.

Author: Tassie Devil Date: October 18 2009

Detailed Comment: This is another opera where viewing the extra feature discussion with the conductor Paul McCreesh is very helpful preparation to better appreciate this very long opera so should be viewed first. He explains some fundamental differences between Baroque Opera and the later genre and this makes appreciation of this Handel work so much better.

Tamerlano is spread over 2 BD discs but is like Rameau's Zoroastre in that it is a work I'm attracted to come back to again and again. As with most Baroque operas it is a very long winded story caused basically by lengthy recitatives and arias with considerable repetition in its 3+ hours. But the Handel's music and its singing is so good in this production one can just relax and wallow in the emotion it generates so its length becomes an asset rather than a liability.

The voices of the female singers are not powerful but have a lovely timbre and are backed up by Placido Domingo who has never tackled baroque opera before but does so here brilliantly. The final duel with Monica Bacelli and Sara Mingardo is beautifully done and very touching. Their voices blend superbly and the recording generally is very well balanced..

And one should not ignore the musical contribution from the Orchestra of the Teatro Real (Madrid Symphony Orchestra) so ably and intelligently conducted by Paul McCreesh. Somehow he has managed to extract a very appropriate Baroque sound from these players using standard instruments.

The staging is relatively stark but very effective with the artists in appropriate costumes highlighted by clever lighting and stage effects.

But I'll level the same criticism at this presentation as I did with Zorostrate. It is not acceptable to omit a written synopsis of the plot and replace it with a few minutes of display among the extras. These plots are rather involved, not so much as to be incomprehensible, but complex enough to need written description, particularly for anyone like myself coming to this for the first time. So I hunted up a description on the net but that should not really be necessary.

Anyone who loves opera should be able to enjoy Baroque operas such as this, but it does help to understand that it is the recitative that guides the story rather than the aria as in Verdi etc works. Yes it does seem to carry on and on in some of these recitatives and arias but this is forgivable when the singing and the music is as good as it is here. It is a sound idea to follow Paul McCreech's suggestion of seeing an Act at a time and must admit I would find it difficult to appreciate it as much if I had to sit through the complete opera in the one session. But that is the beauty of being able to view it in the home at leisure.

This production is a gem and deserves to be on the shelf of all opera lovers. Unreservedly recommended.

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