WORKS: Arias from Tito Manlio, Juditha triumphans, La verità in cimento, Farnace, Arsilda, Orlando furioso, Ottone in villa etc
PERFORMER: Magdalena Koˇzená (mezzo-soprano); Venice Baroque Orchestra/ Andrea Marcon
CATALOGUE NO: 477 8096
Vivaldi’s operas are riding on the crest of a wave with around half of his surviving output currently available on disc. While this justified recognition of Vivaldi’s operatic merit is somewhat overdue it is not everyone, perhaps, who wants to possess each work in its complete form.
Magdalena Kožená’s programme of arias chosen from ten of the operas, as well as another from Vivaldi’s only surviving oratorio, Juditha triumphans, offers a deliciously varied antipasto, likely to whet the appetite for more substantial fare.
Vivaldi is known and celebrated for his lively, often dazzling instrumental writing and this side of the coin is effectively translated to a vocal medium as Kožená demonstrates in the aria from Juditha. This is exciting stuff and she negotiates the demanding passagework with even and lightly articulated declamation. Simpler in expression but hardly less engaging is a little A major aria from La verità in cimento which Kožená sings with charm and expressive immediacy.
Of greater substance and redolent with that distinctive Vivaldian poetry are hauntingly beautiful arias from Farnace, L’Olimpiade and Orlando furioso. Their lyrical appeal and expression of deep emotions are affecting, enlivened and intensified at every turn by Kožená’s vocal colour and intuitive responses.
The Venice Baroque Orchestra is both complementary and supportive throughout. Nicholas Anderson