Handel - Faramondo
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Cat No: 2166112
Number of Discs: 3
Release Date: 23rd February 2009
ArtistsMax Emmanuel Cencic
Marina de Liso
Choeur de la Radio Suisse
Lugano I Barocchisti
This production of Faramondo is probably unique in recording history – and maybe also in the performing history of Handel’s operas since the 18th century. It finally gives us a complete recording of a Handel opera with men singing all the male characters cast for singers with high voices: Phillippe Jaroussky in the soprano role of Faramondo’s son, Adolfo; Xavier Sabata in the dramatic alto role of the vicious King Gernando, and Max Emanuel Cencic in the mezzo soprano role of Faramondo.
At the opera’s first performances in London in 1738, Faramondo was sung by the star castrato Caffarelli, but the other two parts were sung by women dressed as men, since Handel could not afford to pay for additional castrati, who were the highest-paid stars of the day. Since then, women have generally been engaged to sing the highest male roles in Handel operas, with countertenors often being allocated the characters with music in the alto range.
As with female singers, there were alto, mezzo soprano and soprano castrati. Until recently, countertenors have tended to take the lower-lying roles that Handel and other Baroque composers wrote for castrati. Now, a growing number of countertenors also sing in the mezzo and soprano ranges. Cencic, Jaroussky and Sabata are part of this generation of ‘operatic countertenors’ who can provide the vocal agility and range of colour which have perhaps been more readily associated with the female voice.
Beyond the countertenors, there are talented young singers in all the other roles: the Belgian soprano Sophie Karthäuser, who has a pure, but vibrant sound; two Italians – powerful mezzo Marina de Liso and expressive bass-baritone Fulvio Bettini; In-Sung Sim from South Korea, a basso profundo who can sing superb coloratura; and Swiss-born Terry Wey, another young countertenor and also a former member of the Vienna Boys’ Choir, who takes the role of Childerico, sung in Handel’s time by a boy treble.
Diego Fasolis, also from Switzerland, conducts his orchestra I Barocchisti.
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