Handel - Serse | Deutsche Grammophon 4835784

Handel - Serse

£28.16

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Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Cat No: 4835784

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 3

Genre: Opera

Release Date: 2nd November 2018

Contents

Artists

Franco Fagioli
Vivica Genaux
Inga Kalna
Francesca Aspromonte
Andrea Mastroni
Delphine Galou
Biagio Pizzuti
Cantica Symphonia
Il Pomo d’Oro Orchestra

Conductor

Maxim Emelyanychev

Works

Handel, George Frideric

Serse (Xerxes), HWV40

Artists

Franco Fagioli
Vivica Genaux
Inga Kalna
Francesca Aspromonte
Andrea Mastroni
Delphine Galou
Biagio Pizzuti
Cantica Symphonia
Il Pomo d’Oro Orchestra

Conductor

Maxim Emelyanychev

About

The entire opera of Serse by G.F. Handel with Franco Fagioli as Serse – which makes it the first recording of the opera with a countertenor in the title role.

Serse is one of the most popular Handel operas. It is set in Persia (modern-day Iran) about 470 BC and is very loosely based upon Xerxes I of Persia. The role of Serse, originally sung by a soprano castrato, is now regularly performed by a mezzo-soprano or countertenor.

The Italian libretto has a fascinating history, because it is based on one by Nicolò Minato from 1654 and was later adapted by Silvio Stampiglia (for an opera by Giovanni Bononcini in 1694). It is however unknown who eventually re-wrote the libretto for Handel.

The three-act opera was premiered in London on 15 April 1738 at London's King's Theatre and sadly had no success at all. After five performances they had to take it off the schedule and the opera was forgotten for almost 200 years!

The famous opening aria, "Ombra mai fu", sung by Serse to a plane tree (Platanus orientalis), is one of Handel’s best known melodies for its outstanding beauty.

Fun Fact: There is a rumour that in 1906 the aria was broadcast in the very first AM radio programme and therefore was the first piece of music to be broadcast on radio

Cast:
- Serse: Franco Fagioli
- Arsamente: Vivica Genaux
- Romilda: Inga Kalna
- Atalanta: Francesca Aspromonte
- Ariodate: Andrea Mastroni
- Amastre: Delphine Galou
- Elviro: Biagio Pizzuti

Reviews

It’s speculation, of course. But I’d guess that a voice like Franco Fagioli’s, spanning three octaves, comes as close as we can get today to the mingled brilliance, suppleness and power of the great castrati in their pomp. He immediately displays the rounded sweetness of his tone – more vibrantly feminine than others of his ilk – in Serse’s ‘Ombrai mai fù’, where his superb breath control enables him to phrase in broad, seamless spans.  Richard Wigmore
Gramophone February 2019

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