Handel: Poro, Rè dell’Indie

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: Poro, Rè dell’Indie
PERFORMER: Gloria Banditelli, Rossana Bertini, Bernarda Fink, Gérard Lesne, Sandro Naglia, Roberto Abbondanza. Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi
CATALOGUE NO: 111 OPS 30-113/115 DDD
Composed in 1730-1, Poro was Handel’s treatment of Metastasio’s libretto Alessandro nell’Indie, first set by Vinci in 1729. The plot is convoluted – it deals with Alexander the Great’s invasion of India, his deposition of the estranged king and queen, Porus and Cleophis, their rapprochement and eventual restoration – but the psychological motivation is strong. Act I includes striking confrontations between Poro and Cleofide and in each of the three acts they have a fine duet, none more ravishing than their reconciliatory ‘Caro amico’ in Act II. This is exquisitely sung by Bertini and Banditelli. It is a joy to hear it sung by Italian singers: as Poro, Banditelli takes her place among the finest Handelian ersatz-castrati of our day. Bertini’s voice is small but bright and clear and the supporting cast includes the enchanting Fink as Poro’s sister, Erissena, the French countertenor Lesne as her lover, Gandarte, and Abbondanza finding appropriately abundant bass notes as Alexander’s confidant, Timagene. Only Naglia’s weedy Emperor lets the side down. The performance sparkles thanks to Fabio Biondi’s vivacious, stylish conducting and the excellent playing of the Italian period instrument band. Hugh Canning