A classic work of its genre and historical period, Artaserse was premièred in Venice in 1730 by the most famous singers of the day: Farinelli in the role of Arbace, Cuzzoni as Mandane and the castrato Nicolino as Artabano. Following its initial success, Hasse produced two different versions of the work, the first in 1740 and the second in 1760. This world première recording is based on the original Venice version. The exceptional cast features countertenor Franco Fagioli in the role originally taken by Farinelli, his stunning technique making light of the 3-octave range with uniform timbre, remarkable power and striking resonance. Equally memorable is the aria “Pallido sole” sung by Sonia Prina.
Rossini might have dressed his opera in biblical garb, but it is still a story of the conflict of love and patriotic duty that had become the basis of Italian opera. That the plight of the Jews in Egypt is a mirror image of all that is happening today in the Middle East has sparked director, Graham Vick, to think afresh about the opera, the enclosed booklet delving into his thought process, as the present day political and religious leaders use ordinary people as pawns to satisfy their own personal agenda for power. In its original form the Egyptian Pharoh’s son, Osiride, falls in love with the Israelite girl, Elcia and that is about to come to an end when the Pharoh is minded to give the Israelites their freedom to leave Egypt. Now he has to reverse that decision to keep his loved one in Egypt by all means possible…David’s Review Corner
« C'est dans le pli que tout se joue. Comme dans le rêve, il se soulève et puis se cache, se déplisse en soleil, se petit plisse en rond ou se replisse plus serré. On ouvre le coeur du pli, c'est là qu'est le génie. […]
"Ascanio in Alba" K. 111 came about through the good offices of Count Firmian, who had shared the Milan audience's enthusiasm for "Mitridate" and exerted his influence on the Empress in Vienna. He suggested entrusting the young Mozart with the composition of a festa teatrale for the wedding of the Empress's son, Archduke Ferdinand, and Maria Beatrice d'Este of Modena. Mozart began working on the score in late August 1771…
Despite having to mentor a 17-year-old law student through the versifying of the libretto for Maria Stuarda in 1834, when it was finally finished Gaetano Donizetti believed that he and the young man, Giuseppe Bardari, had created a powerful and high-quality opera for the eagerly expectant Naples public. He was quite disappointed then, when the Bourbon King of Naples absolutely refused to allow its performance (the King’s wife was a distant descendant of the Catholic Stewart queen, whom many Italians considered a martyr to her religion). Troubling to the censors was not only the subject of a beheaded Catholic royal, but also the strongly emotional and bitter interchange between the two queens in their act II confrontation at Fotheringhay Castle (an interchange that historically never occurred; the two queens never met in real life)…FANFARE: Bill White