Naive’s Vivaldi Edition is proud to present the 15th opera, and the 50th release, in the acclaimed series. Conducted by one of the masters of baroque opera, Alan Curtis, and gathering an impressive, vocal cast from the top echelons of Baroque singing 'Catone in Utica' is one of the Venetian master’s great, late operas. Composed four years before his death and premiered at Verona in the spring of 1737, 'Catone' inaugurated Vivaldi's third and last opera season. The Red Priest's farewell to the Teatro dell’Accademia Filarmonica was to resemble the crowning piece of a fire-works display.
I Viaggi di Faustina is part of a series from Spain's Glossa label, with each album examining the legacy of a singer from the 18th century, re-creating the repertory sung and even the sound of the voice insofar as such a thing is possible. The title I Viaggi di Faustina refers to Faustina Bordoni, the Neapolitan singer who became famous for her onstage brawl with her rival Francesca Cuzzoni, shrewdly egged on by Handel's promoters in London. But her career was centered on Naples, where she married German-born composer Johann Adolf Hasse; the "viaggi" here are trips both to and from Naples, and the music consists of excerpts from operas she is known to have sung.
Another little known but excellent Italian progressive band. Their roots were in psychedelia, but their sound wasn't quite developed on their debut. Close to Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, early Premiata Forneria Marconi and also Emerson, Lake & Palmer or Le Orme. Two classic albums for any fan of seventies Progressive.
"Purgatorio" (2016) is the final part of Metamorfosi's 'Dante' trilogy, which started back in 1972 with the release of "Inferno".
While it isn't Handel's most obscure opera (hum a few bars from Catone, anyone?), Siroe, Re di Persia is definitely on the margins. It's hard to say why exactly, although the unflatteringly edited Metastasio libretto (by Nicola Haym) is surely part of the reason; the character and conflict development of the original are largely missing from the version Handel set. But the music is Handel at his best, and let's face it: from the perspective of a modern listener, plot is not the main draw of opera seria. With that in mind, Harmonia Mundi's complete recording, with Andreas Spering and the Cappella Coloniensis, is an excellent first step toward giving Siroe wider exposure. It's well played, thoughtfully conducted, and it features an excellent trio of leading ladies.