What the critics said…
ONE OF “THE BEST CLASSICAL CDS OF 2003″
- Anne Midgette, The New York Times (Sunday Arts & Leisure Section), December 21, 2003
Certainly noteworthy of praise is Inga Kalna (Armida) and Vivica Genaux [Rinaldo], the mezzo-soprano who has been making such a big splash in this repertory in the past years.”
- Anne Midgette, New York Times/Album Showcase (Audio Review), June 4-10, 2003
Vivica Genaux is an impetuous Rinaldo, butch and bouncy in “Or la tromba”, meltingly tender in “Cara sposa.” She dispatches Handel’s trills, runs and cavernous intervals with athletic grace, showing again why she is among the most remarkable musicians of our time.” “Even if you already own the Decca Rinaldo, don’t miss this marvelous set; it offers proof that the golden age of opera may well be yet to come.
- Marion Lignana Rosenberg, Time Out New York, May 22-29, 2003
- Tim Page, The Washington Post, May 11, 2003
Many Handelians doubtless own Christopher Hogwood’s excellent recording with the Academy of Ancient Music on Decca from two years ago, but this new version provides some powerful, even preferable, competition. While Hogwood’s cast features such stars as David Daniels, Cecilia Bartoli and Gerald Finley, the unique vocal aura each possesses tends to throw the weaker aspects of Hogwood’s conducting — the clock-tick tempos, the straitlaced interpretation — into relief. But Jacobs’ singers — especially the dusky-voiced mezzo Vivica Genaux, whose coloratura technique is superior to that of Daniels — can certainly hold their own, and he allows them a far greater measure of improvisational freedom; likewise, his direction of the Freiburg players gives the score a driving physicality and sensuous charm that Hogwood cannot reach.
- Russell Platt, The Star-Ledger (Newark), July 15, 2003
The main attraction, of course, is Genaux. In the primo castrato role of the titular knight of the Crusades, she soars through the score with flawless technique propelling her powerful yet supple voice.
Her vocal excellence is matched by her dramatic interpretation. Vengeance, plaintiveness, tenderness or heroism are instantly identified. A quintessential example is the first-act da capo aria, ‘Cara Sposa.’ In the A section, Genaux pulls the listener into the lament for the abducted fiancée, then, in the B section, she stuns with defiant fury vented at the antagonists. It’s hard to imagine anything in this score that Genaux leaves unaccomplished.”
- Eric Haines, Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), May 18, 2003
HEADLINE:Vivica Genaux and René Jacobs shine on a new CD of Handel’s Rinaldo
…Handel’s Rinaldo with one of my favorite young singers, mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux, brilliantly filling the title role…”
- Joe McLellan, redludwig.com, May 9, 2003
Jacobs’ soloists are mostly wonderful: Vivica Genaux is a vivid, involved hero, singing with great evenness, impressive tenderness in the yearning arias, and no fear of Handel’s fiercer music;
- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com, [Rating 9/10] May 5, 2003
The vocal work is hardly less dazzling. Vivica Genaux’s work is truly magnificent.”
- Laurence Vittes, Audiophile Audition, May 2003
Genaux is a superb Rinaldo: fearless, passionate and noble. The distribution of bright and dark timbres in her voice sometimes reminds one of Teresa Berganza. In ‘Or la tromba,’ however, Genaux, suddenly pulls out some brassy chest tones startlingly reminiscent of Marilyn Horne’s performances of this number.
- Roland Graeme, The Opera Quarterly, Winter 2004
The singers are a strong and unusually unified team: all of them firm and clear of voice. The original primo uomo role of Rinaldo is taken by a mezzo, Vivica Genaux, who draws a fine, slender line of tone, and sings the lovely ‘Cara sposa’ with real passion, and her next aria, the showpiece that ends the First Act, has some splendidly defined and incisive singing.
- Stanley Sadie, Gramophone, May 2003
The casting is less starry than on Hogwood’s rival set, but Vivica Genaux’s feminine-sounding Rinaldo yields nothing to David Daniels in bravura…. Dedicated Handelians, I suspect, will want both.
- Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times (London), April 6, 2003
This new version has some notable assets. Among the individual roles there is all the panache and distinctiveness of profile we could possibly wish for. In the title role, Vivica Genaux, a specialist in castrato repertoire and its appropriate style, judges the balance nicely between heroic attitudinizing and Rinaldo’s more vulnerable side, exposed through his scene with rival heroines Almirena and Armida.
- Jonathan Keates, Opera, July 2003
3 Stars (Highest Rating) – “Opera Now Choice”
Vivica Genaux, whose collaboration with [René] Jacobs on the disc Arias for Farinelli made such an extraordinary impact, delivers a triumphant account of the title role, giving purposeful meaning to every page of recitative and finding as delicate shadings of tone for the lover as she does formidable virtuosity for the warrior.
- George Hall, Opera Now, July/August 2003
His [conductor René Jacobs’] young singers here shine all the more brightly. Vivica Genaux, Miah Persson, Inga Kalna and Lawrence Zazzo alone are four excellent reasons to invest in this wonderful work.
- Andrew Clarke, The Independent (London), April 19, 2003
The cast, led by the mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux, is of high quality”
- Andrew Clements, The Guardian (London), April 11, 2003
Vivica Genaux may lack David Daniel’s androgynous timbre [on the rival Decca recording] – the American mezzo is a Handelian in the Marilyn Horne tradition, though less beefy, more feminine in manner – but she yields nothing to the star countertenor in the virtuoso rigours of ‘Venti, turbini’ and ‘Or la tromba.’ Genaux is a superb technician and stylist.
- Hugh Canning, International Record Review, May 2003
Vivica Genaux is an unusual Rinaldo. She does not attempt to emphasize the heroic aspects of the character, which both Marilyn Horne and Ewa Podles did. Like David Daniels, Genaux provides refreshing naturalness in the moments of tenderness and vulnerability; ‘Cara sposa’ is sung with such emotion that it absolutely tears you apart. She brings wonderful inventiveness to her da capo arias and her coloratura is astonishing. This is virtuosity of the highest level.
- Philippe Do, Répertoire, April 2003
This well-balanced cast could not possibly be bettered. Vivica Genaux positively inhabits the role of Rinaldo – at times valiant; at other times amorous.
- Philippe Venturini, Le Monde de la Musique, April 2003
Vivica Genaux surpasses herself in this highly challenging and varied title role, easily moving from the distraught and anguished ‘Cara sposa’ to the frenetic virtuosity of ‘Venti, turbini.’
- Jean-Claude Laccroix, Opéra International, May 2003
In a cast led by Vivica Genaux, there are no weak links; these voices blend matchlessly.
- Jean-Luc Wachthausen, Le Figaro, March 20, 2003
Vivica Genaux is highly convincing in the role of the Christian knight Rinaldo, with a broad spectrum of expression. Her warm flowing mezzo-soprano is endowed with a velvety richness so expressive in languishing love duets and in moving arias of lament, and just as secure in the furious outbursts in her encounters with Armida.
- S. Matuschak, Das Opernglas May 2003