- La favola d'Orfeo, opera, SV 318
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At the outset of Andrew Parrott's 2012 recording of Claudio Monteverdi's "L'Orfeo," the chatter and muffled laughter of the audience is heard while the opening Toccata sounds in the distance. This device creates a "you are there" effect, as if a time machine had transported everyone back to February 24, 1607, to witness the first performance of this opera, which is widely regarded as the first in history. This artifice unnecessarily obscures the opening of the piece, but the rest of this performance with the Taverner Consort and Players is given with lovely vocals, sumptuous instrumental sonorities, and clean and resonant sound. With Charles Daniels as Orfeo and Faye Newton as Euridice leading a cast that is replete with excellent vocalists, this presentation features appropriately ornamented and pure-toned singing and luminous choral textures, accompanied by period instruments that capture a credible early Baroque sound. The venue was the Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Summertown, Oxford, so the acoustics are highly reverberant, lending an aural halo to the sound that is attractive for close-up performers but a little too echoic for the distant players.