Friday, 15 October 2010

Four Sopranos: Vivaldi's Bajazet

Fabio Biondi's recording of Vivaldi's opera Bajazet (1735) is accompanied by a bonus DVD containing video footage from the recording sessions, giving a fascinating insight into the vocal techniques required for this extremely challenging repertoire. Here are four very different soprano arias highlighting the kinds of virtuosity this music demands.

Firstly, American mezzo Vivica Genaux attacks Irene's impossibly florid aria Qual guerriero in campo armato. Her singing bristles with an unreal energy and boasts an unusual agility and accuracy in taking on those rapid-fire trills and the seemingly endless stream of semiquavers.

Next, the only genuine soprano, Patrizia Ciofi, gives a blistering, trill-rich account of Idaspe’s aria Anche il mar par che sommerga.

Elīna Garanča’s less strident, velvety mezzo suits the troubled personality of Andronico. Besides the ease with which she meets the challenges of singing Baroque music (it’s her first foray into the genre), she also displays more emotional nuance in her delivery. Andronico has the most singing parts of the cast, and many of his arias are prime examples of melodic and rhythmic elegance. In the following clip she tackles the heroic aria Spesso tra vaghe rose. Interestingly, in interviews for the French media Ms Garanča has stated that she merely acceded to Mr Biondi’s repeated and insistent requests to sing on the ‘Bajazet’ project, but doesn’t see her voice as particularly suited to the Baroque repertoire.

Serbian mezzo Marijana Mijanovic’s dark sound (actually more a contralto than a mezzo) gives her Asteria a steely core, and she’s no slouch with the semiquavers, either. Her androgynous timbre is slightly more forceful than Ms Garanča’s. The adrenaline peaks in Asteria’s final, distressing aria in the third act, Svena, uccidi, abbati, attera.

The entire opera is a treasure, and they couldn't have picked a better cast. Vivica Genaux, Elina Garanca, and David Daniels are especially strong, and Fabio Biondi's orchestra is always clean and polished. The recording quality is also top-notch.

Download links
(APE = 700 mb | MP3  = 209 mb | Scans = 52 mb)
p/w: aliomodo

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