Margherita d’Anjou was Giacomo Meyerbeer’s fourth opera in Italian and his first real success. After an absence from the stage of about 150 years, it returned at the 43rd Festival della Valle d'Itria in an outstanding production. Director Alessandro Talevi’s ironical setting - where the War of the Roses takes place at the London Fashion Week - is perfectly matched by the elegant direction of Fabio Luisi with the Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia. The opera, which belongs to the semi-serious genre, moves from the warlike tones of Act One to the idyllic ones of Act Two, where both female protagonists appear: the queen, a soprano, and the wife, a contralto; both seek the love of an heroic tenor equally daring in battle and in music.
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.