As with the majority of Handel’s stage works, Rodelinda is composed in a purely Italian style. The libretto was adapted by Nicola Haym from a previous version by Antonio Salvi. In line with the norms for Italian opera, it consists of solo da capo arias interspersed with secco recitatives and, occasionally, with accompanied ones. The undoubted protagonist of the opera is Rodelinda, for whom the composer wrote eight of the original score’s thirty-two numbers, as well as the duet with Bertarido. Rodelinda’s characterisation is a masterpiece of psychological and musical insight, beginning with the entrance aria, Ho perduto il caro sposo. This is a doleful piece, rich in expressive chromaticism and almost completely devoid of coloratura passages, in which the Lombard queen appears prey to the deepest dejection. No less brilliant and persuasive is the musical characterisation of the exiled king Bertarido, whose courage is, unusually, extolled more in recitatives than in arias. Bertarido is entrusted with the beautiful accompanied recitative in Act One, Pompe vane di morte, one the finest and most moving passages of the entire opera, which introduces the melancholy aria Dove sei, amato bene. The other characters also make significant contributions to the interest and value of this production.
A classic work of its genre and historical period, Artaserse was premièred in Venice in 1730 by the most famous singers of the day: Farinelli in the role of Arbace, Cuzzoni as Mandane and the castrato Nicolino as Artabano. Following its initial success, Hasse produced two different versions of the work, the first in 1740 and the second in 1760. This world première recording is based on the original Venice version. The exceptional cast features countertenor Franco Fagioli in the role originally taken by Farinelli, his stunning technique making light of the 3-octave range with uniform timbre, remarkable power and striking resonance. Equally memorable is the aria “Pallido sole” sung by Sonia Prina.
Authoritative and comprehensive, this 55CD set presents a unique period in human history: a period when brilliant recorded sound on LP & CD, plus radio, TV, film and live all combined to offer huge new opportunities for singers, record labels and producers to expand the audience for classical music.
This SIX CD collection of 101 favorite tracks is the perfect introduction to the world of opera, including the worlds most famous and popular tenor and soprano arias, duets and choruses. With a running time of over 7 hours of music this box set provides excellent value for money. This delightful collection includes everyones favorite opera highlights, from the lyricism of Puccinis Nessun dorma! and O mio babbino caro, to the power and might of Verdis Anvil Chorus and Wagners Ride of the Valkyries. Features some of the greatest opera singers of the last 50 years, including Luciano Pavarotti, Dame Joan Sutherland, Jussi Bjorling, Kiri Te Kanawa, Placido Domingo and Renata Tebaldi.
Countertenor performances of 19th century opera are a historical and, ultimately, true novelty. This said, for those who love the sound of the countertenor voice and want to give it a try, there are several factors that recommend this release by countertenor Franco Fagioli, with the small orchestra Armonia Atenea under George Petrou. First is that castrati were still around in Rossini's time, although on the decline, and the composer was reportedly intrigued by their voices. Second, Fagioli, unlike the vast majority of other countertenors, studied bel canto singing rather than Baroque repertory exclusively, and a certain distance present in the work of other countertenors is absent here. And third, and most important, is Fagioli's voice itself. Of the countertenors active today, he's the one with the range, the power, the attitude to make you suspend disbelief and think for a moment that you're actually listening to a castrato. He enters into the various Rossini roles represented on this recording, several of which were mezzo-soprano "pants" roles; this adds to the layers of identity-switching happening, and the parts hit Fagioli's vocal sweet spot. A bonus is that several of these are from Rossini opere serie that are little played or recorded.