Emőke Baráth, Marie Lys (soprano), et al; Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi (Naïve)
Argippo, RV Anh.137
Emőke Baráth, Marie Lys (soprano), Delphine Galou, Marianna Pizzolato (contralto), Luigi De Donato (bass); Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi
Naïve OP7079 112:10 mins (2 discs)
Here’s more recorded music from that remarkable collection of Vivaldi manuscripts acquired by the Italian National Library in Turin. Scholars may ask whether Argippo, first performed in Vienna and Prague in 1730, is an ‘authored’ Vivaldi opera as we understand the word, or a pasticcio knitted together from his own music and that of his most successful contemporaries? But scholarship aside, what counts is whether Fabio Biondi directing Europa Galante finds satisfying music theatre in this collage. And so he does.
Sebastiano Biancardi’s libretto skewers the early 18th-century fascination with the Orient as Europe’s trading powers scrambled to extend their trade routes to India and beyond. So the Mogul Emperor Tisifaro has a daughter Zanaida who has been married and ravished by Silvero, the man she loves, who has been pretending to be Argippo, the ruler of Chittagong, who really loves Osira.
Vivaldi’s musical fingerprints are everywhere on the score – those driving violins with their urgent rhythms, careful word painting and at best characters revealed through their music. You can hear Silvero’s remorse for what he has done in ‘Del fallire il rimorso è la pena’ in Act I, and the contralto Marianna Pizzolato gives a fine performance as the guilty seducer. The bass Luigi De Donato is a youthful Emperor and Emőke Baráth‘s Argippa sounds more satisfying as the plot curdles, with thrilling top notes, callisthenic coloratura and deep dives into the chest register. Of the women characters Delphine Galou’s Zanaida gets the pick of the arias in a recording that is bright and lets the singers lead, which is as it should be.
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