Philippe Jaroussky continues his rediscovery of long-forgotten arias for high male voice with this collection of music by Antonio Caldara, a contemporary of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi, who was the first composer to set many librettos by the great Metastasio and Zeno.
“When you are discovering music that has not been recorded before, it’s like your own treasure,” Philippe Jaroussky told Early Music Today, when discussing his last Virgin Classics recital, La dolce fiamma, a programme of arias by Johann Christian Bach.
With this new album, he revives a number of forgotten works by a contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach, Handel and Vivaldi – the Venetian-born Antonio Caldara, who made his career in Mantua, Barcelona, Rome and, finally, Vienna. All the arias – several recorded for the very first time – come from operas with librettos by Metastasio (1698 –1782), whose noble texts defined the genre of opera seria. Both Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, first performed in 1791, and Caldara’s opera of the same name, first performed nearly 60 years previously, were settings of Metastasio, while the writer’s text for Caldara’s Demofoonte, first performed in 1733, went on to inspire more than 70 stage works, including operas by Gluck, Paisiello, Piccinni, Graun and Cherubini.
As usual, Jaroussky has done his own musicological research for this album. “I’m always very curious and love to go to libraries. When you are in direct contact with manuscripts, it’s like you are touching history; it’s important for me to do the research myself, to be in direct contact with the material.”
La dolce fiamma, also both a musicological and vocal tour de force, prompted The Guardian to affirm that: “You can't help but be seduced by the passion and range of Jaroussky's singing, which embraces everything from perfect coloratura to rapt introversion”, while in the countertenor’s native France – where in 2010 he won his third award in the high-profile annual Victoires de la Musique – Diapason asked: “Can Philippe Jaroussky’s talent be praised any further? … His indomitable technique enables him to tackle the wildest vocalises, but also, thanks to his cultivated legato, to caress sinuous melodic curves. His even, wide-ranging voice charms from the first moment. There’s a touch of mystery, great gentleness, subtlety and sweetness – and the magic of singing does the rest.”
This is Jaroussky’s eighth solo album for Virgin Classics and his second recital to be conducted by Emmanuelle Haïm. Their previous collaboration was on Carestini: The story of a castrato, released in late 2007, which, according to Gramophone found Jaroussky “in brilliant, ravishing voice,” while BBC Music Magazine judged that: “This programme of operatic arias provides [Jaroussky] with a spacious shop-window to display both his pyrotechnical skill … and his ability to express tender, reflective emotions: the ravishing ‘Scherza, infida’ from Ariodante, is handled with yearning sensibility by singer and instrumentalists alike … In summary a rewarding recital, stylishly directed by Emmanuelle Haïm.”
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Lo seguitai felice (L'Olimpiade)
Misero pargoletto (Demofoonte)
Numi assistenza (La clemenza di Tito)
Opprimete i contumaci (La clemenza di Tito)
Mentre dormi amor fomenti (L'Olimpiade)
Non tremar vassallo indegno (Temistocle)
Se mai senti spirarti sul volto (La clemenza di Tito)
Se mai senti spirarti sul volto (Scipione nelle Spagne)
Tutto fa nocchiero (Ifigenia in Aulide)
Tutti nemici e rei (Adriano in Siria)
Son io Fabio? (Lucio Papirio dittatore)
Troppo è insoffribile fiero martir (Lucio Pairio dittatore)