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“…it's the grand portrait of Dejanira that holds the attention in a marvellously evocative performance from Joyce DiDonato… Les Arts Florissants responds to William Christie's firm yet subtle conducting with immaculate playing, while Luc Bondy's modern-dress production searches out the work's truth in a considered, finely-honed dramatic realisation.”
“Luc Bondy's Aix-en-Provence production, here captured at a later Paris performance, confirms that Hercules is superb theatre. Many of Bondy's ideas about detail and stagecraft are impressive and convincing. In Sophocles, Hercules is a serial adulterer; but in Handel's drama it is transparent that he and lole are innocent. Instead, Bondy portrays Dejanira as an innocent victim, lole as a scheming greedy hypocrite, and Hercules as a thoroughly unpleasant cad. All three characterisations grind against Handel's music. But if you accept that this is a distorted invention based on Handel's drama, it becomes an accomplished and powerful experience. Joyce DiDonato's finest moment as the nervously twitching Dejanira is a penetrating, tearful performance of 'Cease, ruler of the day to rise'... Swedish soprano Ingela Bohlin has striking looks and a lovely clear voice: Iole's 'My father!' and 'My breast with tender pity swells' are highlights. Toby Spence's articulate singing makes him a potent Hyllus... The chorus of Les Arts Florissants sings with clarity, precision and a good sense of the libretto's meaning...”
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