Il Martirio di Santa Teodosia, Parts 1 & 2
Emiliano Gonzalez Toro, Renato Dolcini, Anthea Pichanick, Emmanuelle de Negri (vocal soloists); Les Accents/Thibault Noally
Aparté AP232 74:38 mins
Les Accents has previously delved into the world of Italian baroque oratorio with a disc of cherry-picking excerpts. This time director Thibault Noally pits his wits against a single dramatic span, opting for one of three oratorios in which Alessandro Scarlatti explored the theme of martyrdom. All celebrate devout young virgins (saints Ursula and Cecilia are the other two), and <Il martirio di Santa Teodosia> [itals] charts a struggle between human and divine love. Arsenio longs for Teodosia who refuses him, her heart single-mindedly directed towards God. Stung by the slight, Arsenio’s father Urbano orders her execution. It’s all meat and drink to one of the most renowned operatic composers of the age – a favourite in Rome where ‘Teodosia’ was likely premiered around 1683. Yet for all the glories of the music, the oratorio feels a little emotionally two-dimensional thanks to a libretto content to pursue a somewhat under-nuanced trajectory.
Emmanuelle de Negri sounds distinctly older than Teodosia’s tender teenage years; but, given Scarlatti’s athletic vocal demands that’s no bad thing. It’s quite a sing and she takes on the feisty coloratura with gusto. Emiliano Gonzalez Toro’s Arsenio deftly negotiates’ O lieto quel core’, but doesn’t always fully inhabit his torment, while Renato Dolcini (Urbino) delivers an all-sparks-flying ‘Già d’ira m’accendo’ and musters suitably affronted umbrage for ‘L’offendere un rege’. Throughout Noally coaxes shapely, expressive playing that occasionally indulges in a little over-plush upholstery to intensify the pathos; but, plugging an inexplicable gap in the catalogue, the warmly recorded result is persuasive.