Agostino Steffani (1654-1728) was the most important composer ever to be appointed by the Duchy of Hannover. At the end of the 17th century this noble family embarked on a cultural offensive with the objective of having Duke Ernst August become a prince elector. To this end, the Welph dynasty obtained the services of Steffani, a master choice in itself as his works are still performed to this day in the majestic gardens of Princess Caroline of Monaco and her husband, the current Ernst August of Hannover.
This live recording of "Orlando Generoso" is taken from one such concert and the impressive results obtained are a wonderful tribute to the seriousness of such undertakings. "Orlando" was Steffani's 4th opera and the story describes the conflict between personal emotions and ruthless power politics so typical of the times. By the end, class differences drive the two lovers into madness.
Steffani exploited this theme with moving expressiveness and the virtuosic element of the music is consistent throughout. He also brilliantly combines Italian virtuosity and spontaneity with French elegance and refinement thus creating his own particular tone. The team of soloists and Musica Alta Ripa give this operatic rarity the gloss treatment and this superbly polished performance should definitely win it many new fans.
Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech