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The producer of the first Euridice – Jacopo Peri’s, at the marriage of Maria de’ Medici in 1600 – reported the event as ‘tedious … like the chanting of a Passion’, and reported ‘boredom and irritation’ among the visiting Roman clergy. This is not Peri’s but Giulio Caccini’s version, written a couple of years later, but since Caccini claimed to have written much of Peri’s opera it’s pretty similar. And despite the best endeavours of Rinaldo Alessandrini and Concerto Italiano in this live performance from the Innsbruck Early Music Festival you can’t really call it edge-of- the-seat stuff. You can have the twangliest continuo section in the world but it cannot hide the four-chord, four-square nature of this recit-heavy hour – it makes you realise just how far Monteverdi had gone by the time of L’Orfeo. But Caccini was a fine song-writer, and the rare occasions when the music blossoms bring delight and relief. The gorgeous contralto of Sara Mingardo (Daphne and Persephone) is the real highlight and Furio Zanasi is a solid Orpheus; some of the down-table singers are less enchanting.

Robert Thicknesse Read the full review on Agora Classica


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