Vivaldi: Orlando finto pazzo

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

WORKS: Orlando finto pazzo
PERFORMER: Antonio Abete, Gemma Bertagnolli, Marina Comparato, Sonia Prina; Turin Teatro Regio Chorus, Academia Montis Regalis/Alessandro de Marchi
Orlando finto pazzo was Vivaldi’s second opera but his first for Venice. It was premiered in the autumn season of 1714 at the Teatro S Angelo but seems not to have been revived during the composer’s lifetime. Grazio Braccioli chose for his libretto some of the exploits of Ariosto’s invincible knight Orlando, chief of the paladins (see also Lully, above). In this adventure he is entrusted by Angelica to terminate the reign of the sorceress Ersilla over her kingdom of Organa. Ensuing scenes of magic, amorous intrigue and simulated madness afford Vivaldi wide scope in providing his dramatis personae with a rich sequence of varied arias. Indeed, of the three operas so far released in Opus 111’s Vivaldi Edition this one is perhaps the most generously endowed with appealing, often virtuosic vocal melodies, some of which bear a close relationship with those better known in an instrumental context. Furthermore, Vivaldi’s autograph is notably rich in variant components and no fewer than nine such arias are included here, following the opera’s conclusion. Since no opening Sinfonia has survived, a three-movement Concerto for strings (RV 112) serves as an introduction. Alessandro de Marchi has mustered a splendid cast for this project and the voices are comfortably matched by a strikingly well-disciplined orchestra which includes on occasion recorders, trumpets, horns and timpani. We can easily imagine that for his opera debut in his native Venice Vivaldi would have wanted to create a stir. Certainly the element of virtuoso display and moments of dramatic strength present in this earlier foray into Ariostean epic romance would suggest so. Nicholas Anderson