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Orlando Paladino.



Deutsche Harmonia Mundi

82876 73370-2 (2 CDs)

While we tend not to associate Franz Joseph Haydn's name with opera, he composed over 20 works for the stage. Moreover, the Austrian composer reportedly supervised "1,034 performances of 73 operas" between 1780 and 1789 while in the employ of Prince Esterhazy. Although about 15 Haydn operas have survived, performances and recordings are rare. This new release of his "heroic-comic drama" Orlando Paladino (1782), a gentle spoof on an episode from Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, was taken from live performances recorded last year in Graz. For conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, it is not only a "wild modern opera" but also "one of the best works in 18th-century music theatre." While the performance by Harnoncourt and Concentus Musicus, his period-instrument ensemble, clearly underscore the drama, marked contrasts and schizophrenic nature of Hadyn's score, the results are idiosyncratic. The youthful cast is more respectable than stellar and is led to great effect by the honey-toned Canadian tenor, Michael Schade, in the title role. While this new release is a welcome addition to the catalogue, it may not replace the Antal Dorati recording (available on Philips) in listeners' affection.--N.C.

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Author:Crory, Neil
Publication:Opera Canada
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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