The Enchanted Island. A Baroque Pastiche
CAST: Joyce DiDonato: Sycorax, David Daniels: Prospero, Luca Pisaroni: Caliban, Danielle de Niese: Ariel, Lisette Oropesa: Miranda, Anthony Roth Costanzo: Ferdinando, Placido Domingo: Neptune
Metropolitan Opera House Orchestra & Chorus
William Christie, conductor
Virgin Classics, 2012
The Enchanted Island is a delightful and visually colourful “baroque pastiche” recorded at the Metropolitan Opera House of New York in 2012. The opera was created from a collection of arias by Händel, Rameau, Vivaldi and many other composers of the Baroque Era and based on two Shakespearian dramas: The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The performance is entrusted to first-rate artists, led by the veteran director William Christie, true champion of the baroque repertoire, who directs the Metropolitan Orchestra with consummate skill.
Joyce DiDonato is the most remarkable element of the cast and is able to render the metamorphosis of her character from a decrepit old woman to a blazing winner not only in aspect but also in voice (note the hoarse beginning of her first aria and compare it to the strength she demonstrates later). David Daniels rivals with her in excellence and creates an all-round Prospero (as you may see in the last aria from Act I).
The cast is not inferior in skill and technique overall, with the notable exception of Danielle de Niese as Ariel, who is not completely at ease with the agility of this repertoire, as it is evident in her last aria, the famous Agitata da due venti from Vivaldi’s Griselda. On the contrary, it is a pleasure to hear Luca Pisaroni as Caliban (I underline his elegance, very similar to Samuel Ramey’s) and in particular his first aria, which comes from Handel’s Resurrection. Pisaroni sings this same aria in a complete recording of it. There are also the delicate Lisette Oropesa as Miranda and the two couples of lovers (Hermia-Lysander e Helena-Demetrius), at ease in their dizzy scales. Mention of honour to the King of the Seas Placido Domingo.