Cavalli: Artemisia

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COMPOSERS: Cavalli
LABELS: Glossa
WORKS: Artemisia
PERFORMER: Francesca Lombardi Mazzulli, Roberta Mameli, Valentina Coladonato, Maarten Engeltjes, Andrea Arrivabene, Marina Bartoli, Silvia Frigato, Salvo Vitale, Alberto Allegrezza, Alessandro Giangrande; La Venexiana/Claudio Cavina
CATALOGUE NO: Glossa GCD 920918

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The Cavalli revival continues with Claudio Cavina’s shapely reading of Artemisia (1657). The score is a musky potpourri of dewy love songs, indignant recitatives, balmy passacaglias, lullabies and laments. Three pairs of lovers vie for our sympathies in a comedy of passion and duty. Several are in disguise; the stock Venetian comic figure of the crone/nurse (a tenor, here Alberto Allegrezza, in drag) falls foul of a prank in which a magical beauty treatment turns her face black.

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As is often the case in works of this period, the servants have more fun than their masters. Together with Silvia Frigato’s nimble page Eurillo, Allegrezza delivers a warm performance, although Cavina’s nobles need more gleam and personality than Francesca Lombardi Mazzulli (Artemesia), Maarten Engeltjes (Meraspe), Roberta Mameli (Artemia) and Valentina Coladonato (Oronta) provide. Still, the house style is super-stylish and the continuo uniformly suave. Though lacking the sexual and psychological tension of La Didone, Il Giasone or La Calisto, Artemisia illustrates the notion that those in power are powerless in the face of love. Anna Picard