The Baroque lament marries the timeless themes of love and loss in impassioned musical settings intended to showcase the vocal and thespian skills of a tragic hero or heroine. This programme includes the celebrated Lamento d’Arianna by Monteverdi and Carissimi’s expressive setting of the final words of Mary, Queen of Scots, along with less well-known works: the plangent Lagrime mie by Barbara Strozzi, and Luigi Rossi’s urgent, grief-filled outpouring by Queen Christine of Sweden after the violent death of her husband. The declamatory idiom requires an actor as much as a singer, and Romina Basso certainly fits the bill. She weeps, sighs, rages and pleads, wringing high drama from these emotive texts – a veritable Maria Callas of Baroque music.
A cast of extras lightens the tone in a playful Neapolitan curiosity which parodies Rossi’s lament – a hilarious Italian Baroque equivalent of Gilbert and Sullivan. In the roles of two maidens (or damigelle), Paul Zachariades and Nikos Spanatis bray like a pair of comic pantomime dames, though their theatrics en travesti would be more successful on stage. Throughout, the instrumentalists of Latinitas Nostra weave lovely webs of sound and draw on a range of thrilling musical effects to heighten the drama.