Vivaldi: L’incoronazione di Dario
Carlo Allemano, Sara Mingardo, Delphine Galou, Riccardo Novaro, Roberta Mameli, Lucia Cirillo, Veronica Cangemi, Romina Tomasoni, Cullen Candy; Orchestra Teatro Regio Torino/Ottavio Dantone; dir. Leo Muscato (Turin, 2017)
Dynamic DVD 37794
Adriano Morselli’s tangled operatic plot knots together the passions, jealousies and cut-throat ambitions of three rivals with their sights on the Persian princess Statira – or, rather, on her dowry: the throne of Persia. Statira (whom Morselli describes as ‘difettosa di mente’ – mentally defective) flirts with all three: the bellicose soldier Arpago, his arch- rival Oronte and the noble Dario, with whom her heart ultimately lies. But the course of true love never did run smooth, especially when it comes to Baroque opera, and intrigues and deceptions ensue: Statira’s younger sister Argene covets both Dario and the throne, Oronte’s jilted lover Alinda grapples to keep him, while the courtier Niceno – secretly in love with the princess-heroine – spirals into despair.
Leo Muscato’s staging at Turin’s Teatro Regio transposes ancient Persia to today’s Middle East, all oil-rigs and glitzy homes, and he lards the production with plenty of humour: there’s more than a hint of panto to the caricatured gestures, breeches roles, and costumes that play up the oil-rich stereotypes.
As for the music, Vivaldi pours out liquid melodies, lushly scored: highlights include the poignant love-song Niceno composes for Statira, complete with elaborate bass viol cadenzas; the pretty ‘birdsong arias’ decorated with twittering obbligato instruments; Oronte’s melancholy siciliano ‘Non mi lusinga vana speranza’, and Niceno’s ‘Non lusinghi il core amante’, with a dark-toned bassoon underscoring his growing despondency.
Conductor and harpsichordist Ottavio Dantone is no stranger to this score, having recorded it on CD in 2013, and he draws idiomatic, sharply articulated playing from his crack ensemble. Outstanding among the cast are Sara Mingardo, who paints the role of Statira with an expressive palette of colours, Delphine Galou, a dangerously seductive Argene, and Lucia Cirillo, who conveys the calculated passions of Oronte with impeccable control. The recording occasionally loses detail on the voices, but the orchestral sound is pristine.