ALBUM TITLE: Handel
WORKS: Affetti barocchi: arias from Rodelinda, Radamisto, Siroe, Giulio Cesare & Orlando
PERFORMER: Marijana Mijanovi´c (contralto); Basel Chamber Orchestra/Sergio Ciomei
CATALOGUE NO: 88697075912
This is at least the third CD to take as its theme arias written for the great 18th-century alto castrato Francesco Bernardi, known, after his birthplace of Siena, as ‘Il Senesino’. He was associated above all with Handel, creating some 17 roles in his operas between 1720 and 1732, as well
as earning handsomely into the bargain. In only his first London season, Il Senesino clocked up an astonishing fee of 3,000 guineas.
Born in the former Yugoslavia, Marijana Mijanovi´c brings a genuine contralto tone to her choices, which she delivers with a flexible voice and a good articulation of text. She has plenty of vocal personality of her own, though she’s less good at defining the character and situation specific to each piece. But the skill is there to negotiate the Handelian line and the vivid coloratura her predecessor evoked in such works
as Rodelinda, Radamisto, Giulio Cesare, Siroe and Orlando, even if she’s inclined to chug her way through the runs rather than
making them sound easy.
Sergio Ciomei and the Basel Chamber Orchestra provide sprightly support, adding in a handful of orchestral items from the same scores. A warm acoustic reflects a wide range of sound though there’s too much resonance. George Hall