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Vivaldi: Opera Arias - Pyrotechnics / Vivica Genaux


Release Date: 12/08/2009 
Label:  Virgin Classics   Catalog #: 94573   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Vivica Genaux
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  


Notes and Editorial Reviews

The balmy lagoon of Venice is a long way from the chill waters of America’s most northern state, but Alaska-born mezzo soprano Vivica Genaux now lives near La Serenissima, and Antonio Vivaldi, the city’s emblematic composer, figures prominently in her repertoire. This album of Vivaldi arias features numbers from a dozen or so operas and includes five arias receiving their first recording.

This CD joins Genaux’s existing Virgin Classics catalogue, which includes recitals of Handel and Hasse, of bel canto arias and a star-studded complete recording of Vivaldi’s Bajazet, with the dynamic Fabio Biondi conducting Europa Galante.

Nominated for a Grammy, Bajazet prompted this response from Opera News: “True star
Read more status on this recording belongs to Vivica Genaux, whose performance of ‘Qual guerriero in campo armato’ sets what must be the new modern standard for coloratura singing. Her swiftness and accuracy demonstrate why Genaux is the leading interpreter of the music written for Farinelli, the greatest vocal star of the Baroque era.” Describing Vivica Genaux in her trademark virtuoso repertoire, The New York Times observed that: “Her voice is as striking as her looks: less striking, even, for the light, free upper notes or rich chocolaty lower ones than for the runs of coloratura that she releases with jackhammer speed, gunfire precision and the limpid continuity of spring raindrops.” Genaux herself says that: “In Baroque music, what I really like is the interaction between the voice and the orchestra. The orchestra doesn’t just accompany but punctuates what you are saying as a singer, so you have the opportunity of really working closely with the instrumentalists. There are plenty of pyrotechnics in this recital, but in the sense of using ornamentation to amplify the emotion – so there is rapid coloratura and more delicate ornamentation too. I love working with Europa Galante, and Fabio, being a violinist as well as a conductor, understands that a singer can’t just go on forever on one breath – just as a violinist is limited by the length of his bow.”

The Vivaldi expert Frédéric Delamea takes up this theme: “Famed as a virtuoso violinist, Vivaldi divided his artistic life between composing concertos for his preferred instrument and writing operas. It should therefore comes as no surprise that in his stage works he shows a predilection for vocal pyrotechnics, playing the voice and singer like a human violin. Even in the glory days of the castrati, however, he avoided falling into the trap of reducing singing to mere exhibitionist acrobatics.

Throughout his career, he took up the pyrotechnic challenge with finesse, deploying an an unrivalled variety of expression and wrapping up the display in a refined orchestral setting that draws direct inspiration from his concertos while also responding to the demands of the drama. “The dazzling arias in this programme – some of which have never been recorded or, indeed, performed in concert – illustrate the different phases and forms of Vivaldian pyrotechnics, exploring every emotion and the most diverse dramatic situations, and continually varying instrumentation, tonality and tempo. The composer of the Four Seasons, flamboyant as ever, sets his unique operatic stamp”

R E V I E W:

Vivica Genaux is superb … perfectly suited to this type of repertoire.

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, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Catone in Utica, RV 705: Come in vano il mare irato by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Vivica Genaux (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1737; Venice, Italy 
2.
Semiramide, RV 733: E prigioniero e re by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Vivica Genaux (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
3.
La fida ninfa, RV 714: Alma oppressa by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Vivica Genaux (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1732; Venice, Italy 
4.
Griselda, RV 718: Agitata da due venti by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Vivica Genaux (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1735; Venice, Italy 
5.
La fida ninfa, RV 714: Destin nemico...Destin avaro by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Vivica Genaux (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
6.
Il labbro ti lusinga by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Vivica Genaux (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
Notes: From an unknown opera. 
7.
Ipermestra, RV 722: Vibro il ferro by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Vivica Genaux (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1722; Italy 
8.
Farnace, RV 711: No, ch’amar non è fallo in cor guerriero...Quell’usignolo by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Vivica Genaux (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
9.
Tito Manlio, RV 738: Splender fra'l cieco orror by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Vivica Genaux (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
10.
Rosmira, RV 731: Vorrei dirti il mio dolore by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Vivica Genaux (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
11.
Catone in Utica, RV 705: Chi può nelle sventure...Nella foresta by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Vivica Genaux (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
12.
Farnace, RV 711: Ricordati che sei by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Vivica Genaux (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante
Period: Baroque 
Written: 02/10/1727; Italy 
13.
Sin nel placido soggiorno by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Vivica Genaux (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Fabio Biondi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Europa Galante

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