Vivaldi: Orlando Furioso

ALBUM TITLE: Vivaldi Orlando Furioso
WORKS: Orlando Furioso
PERFORMER: Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Jennifer Larmore, Veronica Cangemi, Philippe Jaroussky, Lorenzo Regazzo, Blandine Staskiewicz, Les Elements Choir, Ensemble Matheus, Jean-Christophe Spinosi


Aristo’s epic poem Orlando Furioso provided a popular

source of material for 18th-century 

playwrights and librettists and Vivaldi

 early on in his operatic career had set

Grazio Braccioli’s Orlando finta pazzo


Thirteen years later, in mid opera 

career, the composer produced 

what we might consider among his 

finest operas, Orlando furioso, with a 

libretto once again by Braccioli. Like 

the earlier opera, the 1727 Orlando was premiered at the Teatro S Angelo 

in Venice. Though the plots of the 

two operas are similar – central to 

both is the madness of Orlando – the 

music for each is entirely different.

Jean-Christophe Spinosi has

already proved himself a vitally 

imaginative Vivaldian, above all 

perhaps in the recently issued 

La veritˆ in cimento in the same 

edition (Opus 111). His Orlando is

successful in many ways, notably for

 a gratifyingly strong cast of singers

 and an outstandingly accomplished 

instrumental ensemble. Add to these 

virtues Braccioli’s much more than 

serviceable libretto and the result is 

one that really does strike a powerful 

blow for Vivaldian opera.

There are 

too many alluring features to single 

out, but among the opera’s highlights 

are the mad scene in Act III, vividly 

sustained by Marie-Nicole Lemieux

in the title role – her virtuoso aria

 ‘Nel profondo’ (Act I, Scene 5) 

comes off splendidly; Jennifer 

Larmore’s lively characterisation of the sorceress Alcina (the role 

had been created by Vivaldi’s

talented protegé, Anna Giro);

 Ann Hallenberg’s accomplished,

warm-toned singing in the role of

the female warrior Bradamante; and

 Philippe Jaroussky’s sympathetic

portrayal of Ruggiero, her husband and follower of Orlando.


Among the

instrumentalists Jean-Marc Goujon’s 

flute obbligato in Ruggiero’s aria ‘Sol

ta te’ (Act I) deserves mention. An 

outstanding achievement all round. Nicholas Anderson