You may have noticed that two composers are named for this opera. As we know, opera librettos frequently were set to music by more than one composer in the 18th (and even 19th) century. Francesco Corselli was French by birth (Francois Courcelle was his real name) but worked in Parma and Madrid. His Farnace was written in 1736. Vivaldi composed his Farnace in 1727. For his performances of Vivaldi's version (in Madrid in October, 2001), the great string player and conductor Jordi Savall decided to do what was common practice back in Vivaldi's time–add some arias and other music from a contemporary work on the same subject–and for this he chose selections from Corselli's score. For the record, the bits of Corselli that Savall includes are a Sinfonia plus a recitative and aria for Berenice used as a prologue to Act 1, an aria for Farnace to begin Act 2, and a march preceding the action in Act 3–altogether a bit more than 20 minutes… –Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Until it was revived in the late twentieth century, Handel's opera Faramondo was performed just eight times in London in 1738 and then fell into obscurity. According to the conventions of Italian opera of the period, men's roles were often written for women, in spite of the lack of dramatic realism, and the use of castrati was common, so higher voices strongly predominate. Handel wrote the title role, which would have gone to a castrato, usually a male alto, for Cafarelli, who had the range of a mezzo-soprano. This recording is exceptional in its use of countertenors in all the male roles, and it's intriguing to hear together the variety of voice types lumped together as "countertenors"; the singers here are distinctly males altos, mezzo sopranos and sopranos. The early twenty first century is blessed with an abundance of extraordinarily fine countertenors, and the singers on this recording are exceptional, with voices of great tonal fullness and purity, agility, and individuality.