Vivaldi: Farnace

Furio Zanasi, Adriana Fernández, Sara Mingardo, Gloria Banditelli, Sonia Prina, Cinzia Forte, Fulvio Bettini; Zarzuela Theatre Chorus, Le Concert des Nations/Jordi Savall
Alia Vox
Catalogue Number:
AV 9822
BBC Music Magazine
Vivaldi was just over halfway into his 26-year-long career as a dramatic composer when his Farnace was premiered in Venice in 1727. The present recording boasts completeness as one of its virtues and, indeed, it includes new arias from a 1731 revival as well as an accompanied recitative from another in 1738. Jordi Savall’s decision to preface each of the opera’s three acts with music by Francesco Corselli, an Italian composer almost a generation junior to Vivaldi, becomes clearer when we realise Corselli also wrote a Farnace for Madrid (1739) and this live performance is a Spanish-Italian co-production. The action takes place in the kingdom of Pontus, c185BC, where Pharnaces, son of Mithridates III, has been defeated by the Romans under Pompey. Farnace was one of Vivaldi’s most successful operas. Its libretto is effective, if conventional, and its three acts contain much fine music. Savall has assembled a strong cast. Furio Zanasi (Pharnaces) has a powerful, clearly focused voice which conveys his vengeful character with robust vigour. Adriana Fernández (Berenice) projects her hatred of Pharnaces with chilling venom, while Sara Mingardo (Tamiri, Pharnaces’s wife), revealing gentler traits, invites our compassion throughout. The seductive Selinda, Pharnaces’s sister and full of guile is warmly sung by Gloria Banditelli, but it is Gilades, Berenice’s captain, to whom Vivaldi has given one of the most beguiling arias in the opera. Cinzia Forte sings ‘Scherza l’aura lusinghiera’ with clear, youthful-voiced charm, stealing the show for me. Nicholas Anderson
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