Composed for the carnival season of 1631, Stefano Landi's operatic masterpiece is brought vigorously to life in this marvellous production by Benjamin Lazar. Staged in October 2007 at the Theatre du Caen, the work has many positives going for it, not least the simple but evocative costumes by Alain Blanchet and the imaginative stage design by Adeline Caron who captures the composer's era in brilliant fashion.
The libretto (by Giulio Rospigliosi, the future Clement IX) brings out all the drama of the story of this legendary early saint, who left his family to retire for a life of desert contemplation and after returning from Syria, he lived for 17 years beneath the staircase of his father's house disguised as a beggar.
William Christie's expert knowledge of this repertoire is almost unrivalled and under his direction (from the harpsichord), the music flows with a sweetness and gentleness that is wholly soothing. The set is also blessed with a lengthy interview with Christie himself as well as with the producer and director. This is a DVD which all serious lovers of baroque music should not be without.
Copyright © 2008 by Gerald Fenech