American mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux follows her fine discs of arias for Farinelli (Harmonia Mundi HMG 501778) and arias and cantatas by Handel and Hasse (Virgin 545 7372) with a recital from Vivaldi’s operas. The disc is a delight not just because Genaux is a technically accomplished and warmly communicative artist, but also because the arias themselves are of high quality.
Readers who have been discovering the riches afforded by Vivaldi opera over the past decade or so will be familiar with a handful of them in this well contrasted programme. Costanza’s ‘Agitata da due venti’, from Act II of Griselda, is immensely rewarding; so, too, is the virtuosic ‘Come in vano il mare irato’ from Act II of Catone in Utica. Genaux manages its remarkably wide compass and coloratura with seeming effortlessness, as indeed she does
in the aria ‘Nella foresta’ with its two horns (Act III).
Of an altogether different character is a tenderly expressive aria, ‘E prigioniero e re’ from Act III of Semiramide of which only the arias have survived. Three other arias in Genaux’s recital come from disparate sources and are comparably enchanting. The galant ‘Il labbro ti lusinga’ shows Vivaldi in a stylishly progressive light, ‘Sin nel placido soggiorno’ tweaks our sensibilities at every turn, while ‘Vibro il ferro’ is a splendid aria di furore. Those looking for first-class fireworks need look no further. Nicholas Anderson