In his definitive study of the composer's life and work, Michael Talbot spoke of the prospect of 'perpetual discovery' in respect of Vivaldi, resulting from a neglect spanning centuries. 'Scarcely a year passes,' he wrote in 1978, 'without the announcement of some fresh discovery'. This CD gives an excellent example of what we might expect even now, 30 years after Talbot's study, with a collection of new finds from just the last year and a half!
Vivaldi's operas are rarely recorded and even less often performed, but happily they are gradually gaining more exposure. The most familiar and most frequently recorded is his 1727 Orlando Furioso. The fact that it has been on the public's radar is due largely to an excellent 1977 recording starring Marilyn Horne and Victoria de los Angeles, which has been reissued on Erato. The opera has since been recorded twice, and a DVD of a 1989 San Francisco Opera production featuring Horne and Kathleen Kuhlmann has been released. The newer CDs are extraordinarily fine; in choosing between Naïve's 2005 version led by Jean-Christophe Spinosi and this CPO release conducted by Federico Maria Sardelli, the listener is in a win-win position. Both feature stellar soloists, who are also compelling actors, and beautiful orchestral playing.
Antonio Vivaldi composed Arsilda, Regina di Ponto for the Venetian theater of Sant'Angelo in the fall of 1716. While Vivaldi had, by its debut, been an important member of Venetian musical culture for over a decade as a violinist and composer, he had begun composing only three years earlier. Domenico Lalli, his librettist, who settled in Venice in 1710 after fleeing his native Naples upon being charged with embezzlement, was one of the most important librettists of the first decades of the eighteenth century.