QUEENS

BBC Music Magazine - - OPERA -

Han­del: arias from Lo­tario, Poro, Berenice, Gi­ulio Ce­sare, Sci­p­i­one, Al­cina and Giustino

Roberta In­v­ernizzi (so­prano); Ac­cademia Her­mans/fabio Ciofini

Glossa GCD 922904 77:53 mins

A well-es­tab­lished Baroque artist, Roberta In­v­ernizzi’s hall­mark is un­fa­mil­iar reper­tory, ei­ther of 18th-cen­tury com­posers or star singers. This pro­gramme com­bines both, fea­tur­ing lesser-known arias writ­ten by Han­del for two of his top so­pra­nos, Francesca Cuz­zoni and Anna Maria Strada del Pò. Play­ing be­lea­guered queens – the stan­dard role for a Baroque prima donna – these so­pra­nos clearly fired Han­del’s mu­si­cal imag­i­na­tion.

In­v­ernizzi is of­ten in top voice here. Her col­oratura is elec­tri­fy­ing; one can’t imag­ine a more com­mand­ing Berenice in ‘Scoglio d’im­mota fronta’. She han­dles pathos exquisitely, as in Al­cina’s un­ac­com­pa­nied open­ing of ‘Ah mio cor, scher­nito sei!’ which In­v­ernizzi de­liv­ers in a straight tone, like a low moan. The mu­si­cian­ship of all the per­form­ers is im­pec­ca­ble, as they col­lec­tively heighten Han­del’s crunchy dis­so­nances, hushed si­lences, taut bass lines and im­pul­sive leaps.

But In­v­ernizzi’s del­i­cacy isn’t quite equal to her own ear­lier record­ings. Her vi­brato is over-ap­plied and some­times a lit­tle too broad. She tends to scoop up to notes, and to bus­tle for­ward, rather than let­ting the still beauty of phrases sink in. And she doesn’t spark with Fabio Ciofini the way she has with other di­rec­tors. We get poise, rather than the crack­ling in­ven­tion that took her Han­del can­tatas with Fabio Boniz­zoni to another level. This is none­the­less a sov­er­eign per­for­mance, wor­thy of its orig­i­nal Queens. Berta Jon­cus

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