Boston Baroque - Monteverdi: Ulisse - The Sunday Times
Martin Pearlman has made his own edition of Monteverdi's penultimate surviving opera, to my mind a more emotionally wrenching piece than either Orfeo (1607) or L'incoronazione di Poppea (1643). It eschews the hair-shirted austerity of recent fashion, favouring richer string textures and 13 players in aria/arioso accompaniments as well as a seven-strong continuo contingent. Recorders and cornetti are added for heightened effect in "orchestral" ritornelli, but we are still a long way from Leppard's lushness and the flamboyance of Harnoncourt and Jacobs. The strength of this issue is in its strong, youthful cast. The Penelope of Jennifer Rivera almost shakes my allegiance top Jacob's Bernarda Fink, with a limpid low mezzo of comparable beauty and expressive power, while Fernando Guimaraes's Ulysses is heartbreaking in the moving recognition scense with Aaron Sheehan's boyish Telemachus and Daniel Auchincloss's devoted Eumaes. Leah Wool (Minerva), Marc Molomot (Irus), Krista River (Eurycleia), Abigail Nims (Melantho) and Christopher Lowrey (Human Frailty) all make outstanding contributions.