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CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Catone in Utica: ‘Come in vano il mare irato’ [5:27]
Semiramide: ‘E prigioniero e re’ [4:54]
La Fida Ninfa: ‘Alma oppressa’ [5:10]
Griselda: ‘Agitata da due venti’ [5:19]
La Fida Ninfa: ‘Destin nemico … Destin avaro!’ [5:54]; ‘Il labbro ti lusinga’ [7:28]
Ipermestra: ‘Vibro il ferro’ [3:49]
Farnace: ‘No, ch’ amar non è fallo in cor guerriero … Quell’ usignolo’ [7:50]
Tito Manlio: ‘Splender fra ‘l cieco orror’ [4:48]
Rosmira Fedele: ‘Vorrei dirti il mio dolore’ [6:52]
Catone in Utica: ‘Chi può nelle sventure … Nella foresta’ [7:23]
Farnace: ‘Ricordati che sei’ [3:42]; ‘Sin nel placido soggiorno’ [6:51]
Vivica Genaux (mezzo)
Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi
rec. Library of the Monastery of San Giovanni, Parma, December 2008. DDD
VIRGIN CLASSICS 50999 69457302 [75:42]

Experience Classicsonline

This disc of Vivaldi opera arias is subtitled ‘Pyrotechnics’, and it certainly lives up to its name.

It is the latest in a string of recent recordings that have unearthed Vivaldi’s considerable operatic output – amounting to some one hundred stage works. The starting point for this disc is the coloratura singing style which was so prevalent in Italian opera during the first half of the eighteenth century, and which Vivaldi fully embraced. But, as the sleeve-notes are keen to point out, Vivaldi managed to combine the spectacularly showy style with a more expressive intensity that clearly points to his own violin writing.

What we get is a variety of arias from fairly obscure operas - with the possible exception of Griselda - plus several numbers whose precise origin is unknown or uncertain. They range from the vocally acrobatic ‘Come in vano il mare irato’ (track 1) to the more restrained and elegant ‘Vorrei dirti il mio dolore’ (track 10). In between, there are gems that manage to combine both coloratura sparkle and emotional depth; ‘Splender fra ‘l cieco orror’ on track 9 is a good example.

Mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux is superb. Her voice is perfectly suited to this type of repertoire, with the ability to tackle the stratospheric scales, arpeggios and trills, while remaining comfortable in the lower registers. Indeed, she is at her best when singing roles originally penned for castrato singers - such as ‘Destin avaro!’ on track 5. The expressive sincerity she brings to these arias also helps the listener fully to understand the emotional predicaments the characters find themselves in, as helpfully outlined in the notes and printed texts.

But this recording isn’t all about Genaux’s show-stopping skills. Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante also give as good as they get. Helped by warm and sharp acoustics, they thump out the bass lines and twang on theorbo and harpsichord as the mood takes them. The horn parts in ‘Nella foresta’ (track 11) make for thrilling listening, while the pulsating flutes in the final aria,‘Sin nel placido soggiorno’ (track 13), are almost Bach-like in their hushed reverence.

John-Pierre Joyce




















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