Vivaldi: Opera Arias

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ALBUM TITLE: Vivaldi: Opera Arias
WORKS: Opera Arias
PERFORMER: Sandrine Piau (soprano), Ann Hallenberg, Guillemette Laurens (mezzo-soprano), Paul Agnew (tenor); Modo Antiquo/Federico Maria Sardelli
This is no haphazard ‘highlights’ disc but a selection of arias apparently made by Vivaldi himself from an anthology containing 47 in all. Sixteen of them, all belonging to the years between 1717 and 1721 when Vivaldi was engaged outside Venice – mainly in Mantua – are featured in this attractive recital. Only a handful at most will be familiar even to the most ardent Vivaldi enthusiasts: these belong to Tito Manlio (1719) and La verità in cimento (1720), both of which operas have been recorded in more or less complete versions. The remaining arias come mostly from lost operas, in one instance unidentified and in another perhaps only sketched. Quite why Vivaldi put together such an anthology is unclear but, in his excellent note, Frédéric Delaméa suggests that it was a ‘travel kit’ intended to provide him with material during his trips outside Venice.


The performances under the stylish direction of Federico Maria Sardelli, who also contributes a dazzling recorder obbligato in the concluding aria, are splendid. Sandrine Piau and Ann Hallenberg carry the greater weight of responsibility in arias, many of which call for vocal pyrotechnics and a constantly high level of technical accomplishment. Vivaldi included only four arias for tenor in his ‘travel kit’ and all of them are included here. Paul Agnew confronts their many challenges admirably and the two from La verità in cimento are among the finest pieces in this selection. I hope the remaining 27 arias will follow. Nicholas Anderson