Mozart – Arias for Male Soprano

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Telarc
WORKS: Arias for Male Soprano from Idomeneo, Lucio Silla, La Clemenza di Tito; Exsultate, Jubilate, K165
PERFORMER: Michael Maniaci (male soprano); Boston Baroque/Martin Pearlman
CATALOGUE NO: TEL-31827-02

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 With this Mozart CD Michael Maniaci becomes the latest male singer to leave an imprint on the castrato repertory. A strong stage performer, the young American is in voice terms a genuine phenomenon: his soprano ‘sits’ higher and more naturally than those of almost all his current rivals in the field.

This Telarc recital, excerpting the roles Mozart wrote for three important 18th-century Italian castratos – Rauzzini, Dal Prato and Bedini in, respectively, Lucio Silla, Idomeneo and La clemenza di Tito – displays not just the voice but Maniaci’s recent development as an artist.

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Indeed, no ‘special category’ excuses need to be made for any of the performances: each comes across fully formed, assured in recitative, rhythmically alert, skilful in phrasing. Blurry word-utterance, exaggerated by the overly reverberant recording, tends to deprive the slower-moving lines of expressive variety. That said, a distinctive musical personality is evident throughout, supported by first-rate ‘period’ accompaniment. Max Loppert