Terradellas: Artaserse

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Terradellas
LABELS: RCOC Records
WORKS: Artaserse
PERFORMER: Anna Maria Panzarella, Céline Ricci, Marina Comparato, Sunhae Im, Agustín Prunell-Friend, Mariví Blasco; Royal Chamber Opera Company/Juan Bautista Otero
CATALOGUE NO: RCOC 0800-3

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Domingo (sometimes Domènec) Terradellas was a much respected composer from Barcelona – hence his local interest for the conductor of this CD – who managed to get himself to Naples and then Venice where, in 1644, this opera was performed.

Later in his career he also had successes in London and Rome, where (rumour has it) he was murdered by a rival and dumped into the river Tiber. Terradellas had his quirks. The opera begins with a madcap, erratic overture (enhanced by the lively orchestral playing), and continues with a series of arias which seems designed to create obstacles for the singers.

Anna Maria Panzarella as Artaserse, Prince of Persia, manages to negotiate the extravagant lines with professional dexterity, but her mellifluous singing in ‘Se miro’ is overwhelmed by an unbalanced, thumping orchestral bass line. Agustín Prunell-Friend is a sure-footed lyrical tenor in the role of the evil rival Artabano, but he lacks vocal menace.

The main pair of lovers, Arbace (Céline Ricci) and Mandane (Marina Comparato), are both good, and Ricci, in particular, is wonderfully flashy in her stupendous bravura aria ‘Quando freme’. The Korean singer Sunhae Im brings a natural sweetness to Semira’s role, but it is Mariví Blasco as the minor character Megabise who shows real artistic depth and nuanced musicianship.

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This an enterprising recording of a fascinating opera, designed for an audience that wanted to talk between arias, and who were above all interested in singers. We can see why they enjoyed it, but that experience may be a little more elusive for us. Anthony Pryer