Raymond Leppard’s second and more renowned contribution to the modern revival of Cavalli: a classic among Baroque opera recordings which won the coveted Rosette award from the Penguin Record Guide.
In 1651, seven years after ‘Ormindo’ (also reissued by Eloquence in Leppard’s recording, 482 9382), Cavalli and his librettist Faustini scored another hit with the hungry but demanding Venetian opera public with a tale from Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses‘. The change that all of Ovid’s central characters undergo, is in this case, suffered by the nymph Calisto who is rejected by the goddess Diana, turned into a bear by the Furies and back into a human by Jupiter who finally sets her among the stars in reward for her patience and her love.
Writing as editor of the Musical Times in the summer of 1970, Stanley Sadie observed that Raymond Leppard’s revival of ‘Calisto’ – probably its first performances since 1651 – had, like ‘Ormindo’ three years earlier, been ‘rapturously received’. Subsequent decades have furnished us with the more complete and unedited original opera for which Sadie hankered but they have not dimmed the passionate sweep of Leppard’s conducting. Nor has the singing of Janet Baker, James Bowman and Ileana Cotrubas in the central roles been eclipsed by their successors.
Decca’s top engineering team led by Kenneth Wilkinson was in charge of the Argo recording. As with ‘Ormindo’, they elected to record not in Glyndebourne’s main house but in the smaller and acoustically favourable organ room which was the site of the house’s first operatic performances. Much of the cast also reprised their appearances from the previous Cavalli album, notably the French tenor Hugues Cuenod whom Edward Greenfield observed to be a master of comic timing as well as vocal stamina during the four concentrated days of recording.
La Natura – Marjorie Biggar
L’Eternità – Enid Hartle
Il Destino – Teresa Cahill
Giove – Ugo Trama
Mercurio – Peter Gottlieb
Calisto – Ileana Cotrubas
Endimione – James Bowman
Diana – Janet Baker
Linfea – Hugues Cuénod
Satirino – Janet Hughes
Pane – Federico Davià
Silvano – Owen Brannigan
Giunone – Teresa Kubiak
Eco – Isla Brodie
Glyndebourne Festival Opera Chorus
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Recording Producer: Michael Bremner
Balance Engineers: Kenneth Wilkinson, Stanley Goodall
Recording Location: Glyndebourne Organ Room, Glyndebourne, UK, 10–13 August 1971
Cover Image: ‘Jupiter in the guise of Diana, and the nymph Calisto’ (1759, oil on canvas) by François Boucher (1703–1770)
‘The stylish, sensitive and totally feminine portrayal of the nymph Calisto by Ileana Cotrubas is outstanding’ High Fidelity, August 1972
‘Janet Baker is on terrific vocal form … excellently engineered sound … the London Philharmonic play superbly well.’ Opera magazine, April 1972