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Classical Opera Company - Artaxerxes - Opera Now


01 April 2011
Opera Now
Geoffrey Alton
5 Stars

Opera Now Choice

The Classical Opera Company has done a huge service to Thomas Augustine Arne, whose claim to fame until now has been as the composer of ‘Rule, Britannia!'  In his heyday (the mid-18th century) Arne was a major player in London's musical and theatrical life following the death of Handel.  It was Handel who remarked, on hearing Artaxerxes, he ‘had no idea we had such an opera in the English Language'.

The original score for Artaxerxes was destroyed in a fire at London's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1808, but Ian Page, the artistic director of the Classical Opera Company, has reconstructed the work from secondary published sources, adding new recitatives and commissioning a convincing finale from ‘music restorer' Duncan Druce.

The work was handsomely staged at Covent Garden's Linbury Theatre in 2009 to celebrate the tercentenary of the composer's birth.  Now it appears on this stylish, beautifully produced recording from Linn Records.  Linn are masters at capturing every detail and nuance of the performances, and here they have proved that opera is well within their remit.  The orchestra has a natural sheen and the voices - especially those of the women - are radiant.  Countertenor Christopher Ainslie gives a muscular performance in the title role; Elizabeth Watts and Rebecca Bottone provide pure vocal class.

Downloads are available on Linn's website at Studio Master Quality, CD Quality or MP3 (or you can buy the disc, of course).


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