Vivaldi: Heroes

COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Vivaldi
WORKS: Heroes: opera arias from Orlandofinto pazzo, Giustino, Ottone invilla, L’Olimpiade, Tito Manlio,Andromeda liberata etc
PERFORMER: Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor);Ensemble Matheus/Jean-Christophe Spinosi

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For readers as yet too timid to be confronted by a complete Vivaldi opera, this disc might well break the ice. Philippe Jaroussky is one of the most impressive countertenors around.

His voice is mellow, evenly toned, wide-ranging and largely free from intrusive mannerism and vocal strain. He is sensible to every expressive nuance in music and text, is skilled and tasteful in matters of embellishment and is sympathetically supported by Ensemble Matheus under Spinosi’s experienced direction.

These are musicians who have already proved their alluring credentials in previously released Vivaldi operas. My ears encountered few if any disappointments and much that will call for repeated listening.

Though there is plenty here in the bravura heroic style it is the tenderly reflective arias which reveal Vivaldi at his most irresistibly alluring. Perhaps the outstanding aria is Licida’s ‘Mentre dormi amor fomenti’ from Act I of L’Olimpiade.

Vivaldi’s response to Metastasio’s text is magical and informs the delicately wrought performance of singer and instrumentalists alike.

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This is not an isolated instance of the power of Vivaldi’s spell, for ‘Sovvente il sole’ with its wistful violin solo from the recently discovered serenata Andromeda liberata and ‘Deh perche…Bel riposo’ from Giustino are on a comparably elevated level. In short, a wonderful recital. Bravo!