Vivaldi: Tito Manlio

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LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Tito Manlio
PERFORMER: Giancarlo Luccardi, Julia Hamari, Rose Wagemann, Birgit Finnilä, Margaret Marshall; Berlin Radio Chorus, Berlin CO/Vittorio Negri
CATALOGUE NO: 446 332-2 ADD Reissue
If we are to believe Vivaldi himself, then his time occupied in composing, directing and, in various ways, organising opera must have at least rivalled that which he spent on his concertos. Tito Manlio was written for the Mantuan carnival season in 1719 and is one of the most satisfying of Vivaldi’s operas so far to appear on disc. The recording was made in the late Seventies but makes its first appearance on CD in this welcome, long overdue reissue. The libretto by Matteo Noris concerns a dispute between the Romans and the Latins in about 340BC. Love and honour play a large part in its settlement, while providing Vivaldi with a wealth of situations that lend themselves to affecting musical treatment. Although we may look in vain for the deeply etched characterisation that gives distinction to Handel’s operas,Vivaldi, nevertheless, succeeds by and large in enlivening his roles with arias which vividly colour their personalities and predicaments. Conductor Vittorio Negri has assembled a first-rate cast for the opera, of which Margaret Marshall (Lucio), Birgit Finnilä (Vitellia) and Giancarlo Luccardi (Tito) are especially impressive. The Berlin Chamber Orchestra provides strong, modern instrumental support throughout but, if the keyboard continuo sounds anachronistic beside the more idiomatic and restrained playing of today, it is a small price to pay a performance which, more than most, demonstrates Vivaldi’s skill in a theatrical medium. Recorded sound is clear and the booklet contains full texts with translations. Nicholas Anderson