Powerful female characters and a woman’s powerful voice: MDG listeners are familiar with Mary-Ellen Nesi from several outstanding Handel recordings. In her most recent recital the acclaimed mezzo-soprano turns to dramatic roles from Baroque and classical operas. The selection on this Super Audio CD is compelling: supported by the musicians of Armonia Atenea under the conductor George Petrou, Nesi lends complex female characters a deep intensity of irresistible audience appeal from the first note straight through to the very end.
And these characters really do have to be filled with life. From Medea to Aristea, from Alcestis to Galatea, and from Andromeda to Eurydice: the ancient material has been set many times, and the interpretations of these personalities, often complicated ones, are no less diverse. Hasse’s Eurydice endows the enchanting nymph with a self-confidence that was once completely foreign to Gluck and Monteverdi.
And then Medea: the mother who murdered her children doubtless numbers among the most fascinating figures from ancient mythology. While Handel, bowing to convention, eliminated the bloodthirsty episode, two generations later Cherubini depicted the whole Medea, in a role with absolutely superhuman difficulties. The work was too extreme even for his contemporaries. It was not until 2013 that researchers used x-rays to rouse the sleeping beauty “Du trouble affreux” after more than two hundred years of slumber.
Extraordinary: Ismene’s aria “Un cor più misero” from Andrea Stefano Fiorè’s Pirro is framed by two concertizing cellos; it is only occasionally that the violins and a bit of thoroughbass join them in an accompaniment function. This arrangement is impressive in stereo and synonymous with genuine listening pleasure when heard in MDG’s threedimensional 2+2+2 sound.