Outil de traduction (Très approximatif)
Translator tool (Very approximate)
Reviewer: Iain Fenlon
the earliest Italian operas, the prologue occupied the important function of
preparing the audience for the main business, usually by outlining the central
theme of the drama and pointing up its moral message. In the case of the
first court operas, which were not produced and performed in commercial
theatres, prologues also served the political purpose of flattering princely
patrons. All this was achieved through the song of allegorical figures, whose
dramatic function had been well established by Italian theatrical practice.
imaginative and beautifully delivered record, Enrico Onofri and Francesca
Aspromonte have assembled an intriguing sequence of prologues (where necessary
adapting those with dialogues), beginning with Monteverdi’s Orfeo and
Caccini’s L’Euridice from the beginning of the 17th century and ending
with Alessandro Scarlatti’s Gli equivociin amore, first performed
in Rome in 1690. In between, arranged in roughly chronological sequence, come
three examples from operas by Cavalli and the majestic opening episode of
Stefano Landi’s Il Sant’Alessio. Later, with Cesti’s Il pomo d’oro
and Stradella’s La pace incatenata, there is a distinct shift in the
direction of prologues based on paired recitatives and arias.
Such an approach could easily have resulted in a
dryly academic exercise but these richly sensuous performances are a delight as
they traverse the stylistically varied terrain of the entire century. Rhetoric
is the key not only to Francesca Aspromonte’s singing but also to Onofri’s
direction. Speeds are dramatically varied even within sections; and although not
everyone will favour the embellished style of the detailed instrumental
interjections (particularly elaborate in the improvised harpsichord
realisations), the overall effect is committed. Aspromonte brings an impressive
range of vocal colour to the task, on full display at moments such as the highly
dramatic reading of the opening strophe of the prologue to Cesti’s L’Argia.
While the bright and silvery tones of her upper register are prominent features,
there is also much expressive use of darker and warmer tones in these fluid and
flexible accounts, packed with sensitive detail, and alive to the essential
unity of words, music and meaning.
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