HAYDN: Orlando Paladino - Rene Jacobs, Freiberger Barockorchester (Blu-Ray DVD)
HAYDN: Orlando Paladino - Rene Jacobs, Freiberger Barockorchester (Blu-Ray DVD)

HAYDN: Orlando Paladino - Rene Jacobs, Freiberger Barockorchester (Blu-Ray DVD)

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Orlando Paladino written in 1782 was Haydn's most famous opera during his lifetime with thirty performances in Esterhaza in the first two years after its composition. The libretto (a drama eroicomico) gives scope to Haydn's frequently puckish sense of humor as well as his inventive melodic expression.

Joseph Haydn, Composer
Alexandrina Pendatchanska, Alcina, Soprano
Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Marlis Petersen, Angelica, Soprano
René Jacobs, Conductor
Thomas Randle, Orlando, Tenor

The cast features three excellent sopranos...Best of all is Alexandrina Pendatchanska as Alcina; her tone loses none of its darkness and complexity in the role's trickiest coloratura passages. --Fred Cohn, Opera News, October 2013

The lively cast is well chosen. Marlis Petersen conveys both Angelica’s vulnerability and, in bouts of imperious coloratura, her regal defiance, while Norwegian tenor Magnus Staveland, with a touch of metal in his pleasing lyrical tone, makes the most of the ungrateful part of Medoro. The diminutive Sunhae Im is a charming – vocally and visually – and wily Eurilla, deft in her semaphore routines. Victor Torres, always a vivid comic presence, despatches Pasquale’s patter songs with virtuoso flair (in the one displaying his musical prowess he is hilariously abetted by Im and, at one point, conductor René Jacobs), while Pietro Spagnoli rants and swaggers vividly as the ludicrous Rodomonte.

In the title-role Tom Randle, with his musky, baritonal tenor, does his fair share of comic ranting too, though he is touching in his final aria as the bemused Orlando emerges from his enchanted sleep. Alexandrina Pendatchanska, like Im a Jacobs regular, takes her chances brilliantly as a twitchingly neurotic Alcina, singing with darkly flaming tone and rightly bringing the house down in a last-act aria filched from an earlier Haydn comic opera, Il mondo della luna. The added trumpets and drums here are one of several instances where Jacobs takes liberties with Haydn’s scoring. But as ever, his direction bristles with rhythmic energy (the frequent repeated-note bass-lines never merely chug) and pungent detail. Anyone who knows Jacobs’s Mozart opera recordings will be prepared for the extravagant fortepiano flourishes and fantasies in the recitatives. Whatever my provisos, this DVD could well convert those still unconvinced that Haydn’s comic operas, for all their musical beauties, can be made to work in the theatre. --Gramophone