The Story of a Castrato

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Carl Heinrich Graun,Giovanni Maria Capelli,Gluck.,Handel,Hasse,Leonardo Leo,Porpora
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Carestini
WORKS: The Story of a Castrato
PERFORMER: Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor); Le Concert d’Astrée/Emmanuelle Haïm
CATALOGUE NO: 395 2422

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Giovanni Carestini was among the most celebrated and widely travelled castratos of his day. He was a younger contemporary of Handel for whom he sang during the mid 1730s and for whom he created the mezzo-soprano role of Ruggiero in Alcina.

Philippe Jaroussky has chosen two arias from Alcina as well as one each from Handel’s Ariodante and Arianna in Creta. The other composers featured here are Hasse, Porpora, Leonardo Leo, Carl Heinrich Graun, Giovanni Maria Capelli and Gluck.

Readers who have been getting to know Vivaldi’s operas from the recent releases by Ensemble Matheus under Jean-Christophe Spinosi will be familiar with Jaroussky’s distinctive timbre and virtuoso technique.

This programme of operatic arias provides him with a spacious shop-window to display both his pyrotechnical skill – as in Porpora’s ‘Tu che d’ardir m’attendi’ from Siface, in which the voice is partnered by a dazzling trumpet obbligato – and also his ability to express tender, reflective emotions: the ravishing ‘Scherza, infida’ with bassoon, from Ariodante, is handled with yearning sensibility by singer and instrumentalists alike.

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The slightly hard-edged vocal quality in the upper register is improved by Jaroussky’s impeccable sense of pitch. In summary a rewarding recital, stylishly directed by Emmanuelle Haïm. Nicholas Anderson