The Carnival of Venice in 1729 was quite unlike any other. Over a period of two months, opera houses went into a frenzy of competition to show off the most famous singers of the day, including the legendary castrato Farinelli who made his astonishing Venetian debut. Several of the most fashionable composers rose to the occasion, writing ravishing music for spectacular productions which often pitted the singers against each other in breathtaking displays of virtuosity. The results were sensational; one tour de force followed another in an atmosphere of fevered excitement and the adoring public lapped it up.
The carnival opened with a star-studded cast in Leonardo Leo’s tragedy Cantone in Utica from which the dazzling aria Soffre talor del vento and the more gentle Ombra adorata are taken. Farinelli triumphed in Nicolo Porpora’s opera Semiramide, the perfect vehicle for his extraordinary technique. By contrast Adelaide by Giuseppe Maria Orlandini, another premiere, contains show-stopping displays for Farinelli’s arch rival Faustina Bordoni. And Germiano Giacomelli’s elegant opera Gianguir contains the achingly beautiful aria Mi par sentir la bella. Most of these rediscovered works are recorded here for the first time.
“The excellent musicians of the fantastic period-instrument ensemble … get it all perfectly right: every tone, every phrase, coloratura and accompaniment” (Süddeutsche Zeitung).
The critically acclaimed Il pomo d’oro is an Italian baroque ensemble founded in 2012 with a special focus on opera with authentic performances on period instruments. They have recorded 15 albums including the world premiere recording of Leonardo Leo’s Cantone in Utica
With a repertoire that includes leading roles in operas by Rossini, Mozart, Gluck, Handel, Vivaldi, Monteverdi, Purcell, Bizet and Massenet, Ann Hallenberg is a much in demand Swedish mezzo-soprano and has recorded over 40 CDs, her solo CD Agrippina winning the award for best operatic recital at the International Opera Awards in May 2016.
The baroque violinist and conductor Stefano Montanari is a much sought after guest conductor with both modern and period orchestras. He is regarded as one of the finest baroque violin virtuosos of his generation.