Amanda Forsythe Performs The Power of Love: Arias from Handel Operas

With Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra conducted by Jeannette Sorrell

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COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Avie
ALBUM TITLE: The Power of Love: Arias from Handel Operas
WORKS: The Power of Love: operatic arias
PERFORMER: Amanda Forsythe (soprano); Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra/Jeannette Sorrell
CATALOGUE NO: AV 2350

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This is Amanda Forsythe’s first and long overdue solo recording of Baroque music. A seasoned vocalist often overshadowed by bigger stars, Forsythe shows here why she deserves top rank. Her agility, her invention and her voice – a straight core sound wrapped in luminous timbres – are remarkable. Her programme alternates familiar with unfamiliar Handel arias, all fine showcases for her strengths. Particularly in allegro moods, Forsythe sets arias on fire; her handling of war-horses like ‘Da tempeste’ (Giulio Cesare) will amaze even the jaded connoisseur. She acquits herself equally well in arias from Terpsichore and Teseo, adding zest to these more obscure numbers with her sparkling additions.

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While her sound is always gorgeous, there’s a lack of interiority. This is most noticeable in arias of pathos, where one misses any sort of dialogue between vocalist and band. A whiff of artifice clings to ‘Geloso tormento’ (Almira) partly because director Jeannette Sorrell has the band repeat without variation its response to the words Forsythe sings. Generally, the band’s performance is rococo rather than Baroque: delicate and nuanced, but pale, with continuo realisations that hide behind the singer rather than engaging with her. Yet Forsythe’s stunning execution makes this a disc worth having. Berta Joncus