Era La Notte

In the famous ìLamento díAriannaî by Monteverdi, the emotions are strikingly dynamic and mutable, as Arianna,, abandoned by her lover, Teseo, moves variously through rage, regret, uncertainty, anguish and love in one of early operaís most memorable scenes. Barbara Strozziís ìLagrime mieî offers a pining for death in the face of a love that cannot be returned. Pietro Giramoís ìLamento della pazzaî is a remarkable mad-song, whose text embodies the wayward meanderings and quick turns of one driven mad by unrequited love. The last of the four, Monteverdiís opuscolo in genere rappresentativo ìIl Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda,î sets a scene from Tassoís Renaissance epic, Gerusalemme liberata in which the combat of lovers in knightly disguise ends with poignant death, transformed into happiness.

Given the moving dramatic nature of these highly affective works, it is not surprising that they have also been staged by Juliette Deschamps. She writes: ìI imagine scenes from the life of a woman who, we realize, is lost foreverólost through love, no doubt about it. She relates to us, with elegant crudeness and in language at once precious and raucous, the episodes of her existence, made up of dreams of love and the pain of loving.î Although the recording cannot convey the staged elementsóone quickly wishes for a DVD releaseóthe dramatic quality of Antonacciís vocal renditions leave little doubt of the theatrical potential, both of the singer and the program.

Antonacciís great strengths here are her responsiveness to the dynamics of the texts and her well-cultivated beauty of tone. Her sound is bigger than one sometimes finds in early music circlesómuch of her career is devoted to later operatic repertoriesóbut she maintains a sharp focus to the sound that suits early opera well.

The instrumental forces of Modo Antiquo are well attuned to Antonacciís emotional flexibility, and with imaginative use of dynamics, instrumentation, and even choice of technique, their contribution to the evolving dramatic sense is strong. In the ìCombattimento,î Monteverdi famously gives the instruments passages in the stile concitato: vigorously articulated tremolos to arouse the passions of war. The ensemble presents these moments of combat with great flair. In the end however, it is the poignance of Clorindaís death that proves most convincing. Sung with consummate control against a halo of string sound, Clorindaís last words, ìHeaven opens, I go in peace,î become a hauntingly beautiful conclusion, not only to Clorindaís life, but to the programís journey, as well. Moreover, as the control is Antonacciís, they also become one of the most memorable instances of her high artistry.

Steven Plank

image_description=Era la notte
product_title=Era La Notte.
product_by=Anna Caterina Antonacci, soprano; Modo Antiquo, Federico Maria Sardelli, director.
product_id=NaÔve V5050 [CD]