Franco Fagioli: Handel-Vivaldi Recital
There are key moments in the history of baroque opera, which are decisive for the musical style of the greatest composers. Around 1730, Vivaldi in Venice and Handel in London staked everything on the star singers of the time, the castrati.
Vivaldi, then director of Teatro San Angelo in Venice, saw the Neapolitan style invade his city with ornate vocal feats and had to find a response: two of his masterpieces called on castrati to attract the public. For Orlando Furioso created in 1727, the main roles: Ruggiero and Medoro were sung by castrati to resounding success; the same success crowned Olimpiade, where the role of Aminta was reworked for the young castrato Mariano Nicolini, called “Marianino”, offering him exceptionally virtuoso arias.
At the same time Handel saw the arrival of a formidable competitor, the Neapolitan composer Nicola Porpora, who became his rival calling to his side Europe’s most famous castrato, Farinelli who arrived in 1734 and soon became the public’s darling. Handel was quick to respond and in 1735, his magnificent Ariodante, with the castrato Giovanni Carestini singing the lead role, triggered the success of Handel’s first season at Covent Garden! Who better than Franco Fagioli to revive the incredible challenges for which Vivaldi and Handel deliberately chose castrati to embody their finest operas, giving them both voluptuous melodies (who can hold back tears when hearing "Scherza Infida"?) and formidable vocal feats? Vocal fireworks…
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Cantata Cessate o mai cessate RV 684
« Mentre dormi », aria from L’Olimpiade
« Nel profondo cieco mondo », aria from Orlando Furioso
Georg Friedrich Handel (1685-1759)
« Scherza infida », aria from Ariodante
« Dopo notte », aria from Ariodante