The Critics Loved La Calisto At Wigmore Hall

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Here are a selection of highlights from the reviews:

“The singing was suave, wordy and quick-witted from the goddesses to the sidekicks Mercurio (James Newby) and Silvano (Edward Grint), and Mead’s noble shepherd, while the pathos and comedy in Calisto’s erotic downfall were exquisitely balanced by Crowe. After this and their delectable Acis and Galatea, how long before La Nuova Musica get the theatre run they deserve?”

Anna Picard – The Times ****

“David Bates and La Nuova Musica gave themselves an extra challenge when performing the work at the Wigmore Hall on Monday 28 November 2016, as it was being given in a concert performance, though in fact the group’s lively and imaginative approach to ‘staging’ and keen attention to musicality meant the performance really took wing…..At the centre of everything was Lucy Crowe’s wonderful Calisto, growing from wonder to love to disillusion. Crowe’s highly plangent voice brought great beauty to the arias which Cavalli gives his heroine, yet her demeanour and performance gave the music great intensity too. This was a highly concentrated performance, the still centre of a web of chaos….Despite Cavalli’s luscious melodies (including a melting final duet for Giove and Calisto which resembles the closing duet from Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea), there is a lot a recitative in this opera, and both singers and instrumentalists really brought it alive, the alert accompaniment from the wide array of continuo instruments complementing the lively dialogue from the singers. Whilst there were superb solo moments, the whole was very much a strong ensemble piece. All was directed in a lively and alert manner by David Bates, his having his back to the singers did not prevent him giving detailed direction and really shaping the music.”

Robert Hugill – Planet Hugill ****

“The cast was one of the most spectacular at the Wigmore this year……The attention to detail across the players was breath-taking; equally riveting in the quieter, more beautiful arias (the ground bass accompaniment to Endimione’s plaintive second act aria “Lucidissima face” was a particular delight) as in their dance passages and swelling ritornellos, and the addition of the harp to signify the gushing river was beautifully done.”

Olivia Bell – Bachtrack ****

“At the Wigmore Hall, London an outstanding Cavalli La Calisto, with La Nuova Musica,  La Nuova Musica enliven their work with the same adventurous spirit that one imagines would have motivated 17th century Venetian audiences…….we could enjoy detail, like the way different voices came together at the end of a line, hovering together before falling silent. We could also focus on the variety of musical invention, sometimes sublime and at other times, deliberately grotesque.”

Doundou Tchil – Classical Iconoclast

“Dramatic urgency was apparent from the opening instrumental Sinfonia with David Bates’s direction impelling the rendition with dance-like vigour, here and consistently throughout the interludes with the seven other members of the ensemble. He himself switched with easy facility between the harpsichord (for the filigree decoration of jauntier sequences) and the chamber organ (for more solemn or sustained episodes) aiding the colourful contrasts brought out by both the players and singers, and ending with the moving coda accompanying the transfiguration of Calisto into the constellation Ursa Major……In the title role, Lucy Crowe was wondrously versatile, ranging from chaste purity, to tremulous disgust and defiance as Giove first attempts to seduce her, and then to the flourishing of sexual awakening……All told then, the pleasing variety of the cast of singers and the stylish authority of La Nuova Musica’s accompaniment combined in an imaginative and vivacious account of this early operatic masterpiece.”

Curtis Rogers – Classical Source