- Artemisia, opera: Affliggetemi, guai dolenti
- Artemisia, opera: Dammi morte
- La Rosinda, opera: Vieni, vieni in questo seno
Amidst the splendors of Venice in the middle 17th century, no composer would have been better known than Francesco Cavalli, not even the great Monteverdi, Cavalli's teacher. Yet he is rarely heard these days, partly because his operas were massive spectacles that are extremely difficult to mount in an era of budget-cutting. The ideal solution is a collection of arias, and that's what you get here. The title, roughly "Love in Love," comes from a Cavalli opera that's not represented on the album, but it's close enough in spirit to the content of most of the arias; sex might have been mentioned too. The pair of sopranos involved are wonderful: the powerhouse Nuria Rial predominates, but the precise tones of Hana Blaziková, welcome at a time when Masaaki Suzuki's Bach cantata series is winding down, offer an attractive contrast. But the real stars of the show are the players of L'Arpeggiata and their director, Christina Pluhar. She assembles a large group of strings and keyboard instruments (a small organ is an especially nice touch) that can deliver an astonishing range of colors. These are paired with aria types that give an idea of the content of Cavalli's operas: tragic ground bass pieces, little comic tunes, virtuoso declamation that picks up where Monteverdi's late operas left off, and more. There are also purely instrumental pieces that might have been interpolated into a recital in Cavalli's own time. The Erato/Warner Classics engineering team nails the ambiance in the Salle Byzantine at the Palais de Béhague in Paris, an ideal venue. Richly sensual, and strongly recommended for anyone with the slightest interest in the crucial music of Venice or in the early Baroque in general.