Vivaldi: Arsilda, regina di Ponto

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COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: CPO
ALBUM TITLE: Vivaldi – Arsilda, regina di Ponto
WORKS: Arsilda, regina di Ponto
PERFORMER: Simonetta Cavalli, Lucia Sciannimanico, Elena Cecchi Fedi, Nicky Kennedy, Joseph Cornwell, Sergio Foresti, Alessandra Rossi
Italian Chamber Choir, Modo Antiquo
Frederico Maria Sardelli
CATALOGUE NO: 999 740-2
Arsilda, regina di Ponto was premiered

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in Venice’s S Angelo theatre, then

under Vivaldi’s control, in the autumn

of 1716. Librettist Domenico Lalli’s

original text had run into trouble

with the censors and the revised one

he seems to have largely disowned. In

the course of revising the opera before

production, Lalli and Vivaldi fell out

and thereafter the composer hardly

used his texts again. Notwithstanding

these difficulties and the strong

competition from rival Venetian

theatres, Arsilda was a success, many of

its arias and perhaps entire productions

subsequently enjoying popularity in

Dresden, Kassel and Prague.

Recorded here is not the version

performed in 1716, but that

allegedly adhering to the original

pre-censored autograph, as revised

by the conductor Federico Maria

Sardelli. The story, in which disguise,

jealousy, mistaken identity and a

shipwreck play their part, draws from

Vivaldi a wealth of engaging arias, a

more than customary participation

of a chorus and a splendid hunting

scene in honour of the goddess Diana

introduced by vibrant calls from a

pair of horns. But what appealed

most of all to my senses, ever ready

to respond to Vivaldi’s magic wand,

was the concluding number of

Act I, an aria for Mirinda, Princess

Lisea’s confidante. Here Vivaldi’s

lightly pulsating accompaniment

evokes a scene of Arcadian bliss with

intimate charm. Soprano Elena

Cecchi Fedi sings with delicacy and

an accomplished technique which

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matches that of the remaining soloists. Nicholas Anderson