- Farnace, opera in 3 acts, RV 711
Vivaldi: Farnaceby Max Emanuel Cencic
Vivaldi's operas were virtually unknown until the late decades of the 20th century, but by the early years of the 21st more and more were coming to light, on recordings if not to the same extent on-stage, and some have been recorded multiple times, thanks to the dedicated research of early music specialists and the emergence of a spate of first-rate counter tenors. Such is the case with "Farnace," which receives its second recording on the Virgin Classics label with counter tenor Max Emanuel Cencic leading an extraordinary cast of soloists. Diego Fasolis conducts the period instrument orchestra I Barocchisti and Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera, Lugano, in a vibrant reading of the score. Not among the smallest revelations of Vivaldi's operas is the inventiveness of his orchestration when the music is tailored to drive the drama; his writing is ingeniously varied and subtly nuanced, and the performances Fasolis draws from his players and singers are attentive to the details of the score and bristling with energy. Cencic, whose voice falls into the mezzo-soprano range, is superb in the title role. His voice is full and warm, with none of the pallid whiteness that can mark counter tenors so it can be virtually indistinguishable from a female mezzo-soprano's. He is technically and musically above reproach, and his investment in his character brings it fully to life. Other singers who stand out for their sheer vocal beauty include soprano Karina Gauvin, mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg, and tenors Daniel Behle and Emiliano Gonzalez Toro. Mezzo-soprano Mary-Ellen Nesi has a dark, powerful voice ideally suited to the role of the villainess. As Farnace's much put-upon wife, mezzo-soprano Ruxandra Donose, sings with penetrating poignancy and intensity. One might think that in an opera in which four of the seven roles are for mezzo-soprano that monotony would set in, but in this performance at least, the characters are so well vocally differentiated that that's not a problem. Fasolis uses the composer's 1738 revision of the score, and his version includes about 40 more minutes of music than the only other recording of the opera. The sound is exceptionally clean, lively, and detailed. Highly recommended.
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Performance CreditsMax Emanuel Cencic Primary Artist
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