Grammy-nominated artist Max Emanuel Cencic presents Nicola Porpora: Opera Arias, to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Porpora’s death.
Decca’s new release brings together five of the world’s most renowned countertenors, who bring the rich world of baroque opera to life. Once rarely heard, countertenors are now firmly established on the operatic stage and concert platform and their popularity has reached an all-time high. This album features virtuosic highlights from baroque opera and showcases the extraordinary abilities of five astonishing artists: Max Emanuel Cencic, Yuriy Mynenko, Valer Sabadus, Xavier Sabata and Vince Yi.
Christoph Willibald Gluck has a place in the history books for a few big hits and for the idea of reforming the ornate style of opera seria serious opera in the 18th century, replacing it with a more natural ideal of melody. This reputation has rested on a very few pieces, and both bibliographic control and recorded explorations of Gluck's music are perhaps more sparse than for any other major composer.
These are world premiere recordings and these Handel specialists have once again scored a major coup. Alessandro Severo is based on the life of a Roman emperor of the third century and is in the form of a pasticcio. Manzaro composed the Greek national anthem and the discovery of an opera by him was a major find by the Greek conductor George Petrou. Armonia Atenia perform on period instruments.
Handels ninth major opera for London, Alessandro was written as a showcase for the Rival Queens, the two famous Italian sopranos Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni whose supposed enmity, both personal and professional, not only generated good publicity for Handels latest opera but also added extra dramatic frisson to the two divas jealous clashes on stage.
Hasse was a major 18th century composer, up there with Handel. He was married to the even more famous soprano, Faustina Bordoni; they were what is now called a “power couple”. Based in Dresden and bathed in the Italian style of composition, Hasse turned that city into a major venue for opera; the Italians called him “The dear Saxon”. Siroe is a typical opera of the period: with a libretto by Pietro Metastasio (whose words for various operas were set by more than 300 composers; Siroe alone was set by five composers before Hasse got to it), it alternates recitatives (many, many of them), in which things happen and characters confront one-another, with showcase arias that reflect a frozen moment, a specific emotion.