COMPOSERS: Cavalli,Handel,Hasse,Legrenzi & Monteverdi,Manelli,Merula,Sartorio,Vivaldi
LABELS: Virgin Veritas
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Love and Death in Venice
WORKS: Baroque arias and duets by Merula, Manelli, Hasse, Handel, Sartorio, Cavalli, Vivaldi, Legrenzi & Monteverdi
PERFORMER: Suzie Le Blanc (soprano),Derek Lee Ragin (countertenor) Teatro Lirico/Stephen Stubbs
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45263 2
Teatro San Cassiano, the world’s first public opera house, opened in Venice in 1637. Teatro Lirico takes its CD’s repertoire from the cosmopolitan opera scene that flourished in the city for the next hundred years. So resident composers are featured (Monteverdi, Cavalli, Vivaldi), as are distinguished visitors (Handel, Hasse). Playing and singing are outstanding, with Suzie Le Blanc and Derek Lee Ragin a delightfully expressive pair, especially in Handel’s ‘Tanti strali’ and Monteverdi’s exquisite ‘Pur ti miro’. They shine too on their solo choices, she on Vivaldi’s ‘echo’ aria ‘L’ombre, l’aure’, he on that composer’s cantata ‘Cessate, omai cessate’, an early Venetian version of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’.
Handel wrote the sexiest operas of the Baroque era. His arias and love duets exude languorous voluptuousness. The Europa Galante disc is too formal to always hit the mark. The playing is more keenly polished than sensuous, and Gloria Banditelli’s contralto sounds a touch deadpan. There’s plenty to enjoy, though, notably two glorious duets in ‘Ma come amor?’ (Muzio Scevola) and ‘Per le porte’ (Imeneo), while Sandrine Piau is ravishing in ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ (Rinaldo) and Rodelinda’s yearning ‘Ritorna, oh caro’ (Rodelinda). Graham Lock