A beautiful scenic film by Olivier Simonnet. Filmed in high-definition widescreen. Cecilia Bartoli sings virtuoso arias from her Sacrificium album, on location in and around the spectacular baroque palace of Caserta in Southern Italy, just outside of Naples. This unique film shows Cecilia Bartoli in full costume singing a selection of showpiece arias written for the castrato stars of the Neapolitan school. Ravishing locations including the Court Theatre, the stunning Vestibule and the Palace Gardens. Arias include Handel's "Ombra mai fu" and Broschi's "Son qual nave"–previously only available in the deluxe version of the album. The film also showcases the leading Italian period ensemble Il Giardino Armonico under their director Giovanni Antonini. Special bonus features include an illustrated interview in which Cecilia Bartoli talks about the Sacrificium project, and a visual guide to the Palace, town and region of Caserta. (amazon.com)
Soundtrack to the film 'Farinelli', the 1994 biopic film about the life and career of Italian opera singer Farinelli, considered one of the greatest castrato singers of all time. It stars Stefano Dionisi as Farinelli and was directed by Belgian director Gérard Corbiau. Although Dionisi provided the speaking voice, Farinelli's singing voice was provided by a soprano, Ewa Malas-Godlewska and a countertenor, Derek Lee Ragin, who were recorded separately then digitally merged to recreate the sound of a castrato. Through the film the general public discovered a whole repertoire of works for a voice that can no longer be heard today. The soundtrack from the film became a bestseller, as we discovered with delight some beautiful pieces by Handel, Pergolesi, Hasse, Porpora and others, in a unique interpretation.
'Radamisto' was the first opera Handel composed for the Royal Academy, his first operatic venture in London, being produced for the first time in 1719; it was revived and revised in 1720, 1721 and 1728. This Berlin Classics recording, dating from 1962, presents an adaptation of the 1721 version, which drops a minor character, Fraarte. More importantly, in addition to the use of modern instruments and a chorus (in general Handel's chorus was assembled from the soloists–opera in eighteenth century London was a commercial venture so personnel was kept to a minimum), the libretto is translated into German and all the castrato roles are transposed down into either tenor or bass registers. The result, while nothing Handel would have recognized, is in keeping with the spirit of free adaptation that reigned in 18th-century opera. As such it is reasonably well done if a bit heavy for contemporary tastes. The German language sits heavily on the music and renders the coloratura a weightier tone than is expected in this music. For an alternative, listeners are directed to Nicholas McGegan's recording of the 1720 version on Harmonia Mundi with period instruments and the original vocal ranges, albeit with countertenors instead of the missing castrati.Arkivmusic.com
There are three surprises on these two CDs, recorded in November 1984 in London. The first is the recording location: the Hilliards have something of a penchant for historical churches and abbeys, but on this occasion they chose the No. 1 Abbey Road studio, a decision which, in my humble opinion, had a positive influence on the sound of the recording: here there is no echoing and none of the background noise that was a characteristic of some of their earlier recordings. The blend of the five voices is wonderfully captured, not, indeed, particularly spaciously, but clearly and with sound engineering finesse, as one would expect from Britain’s most prestigious recording studio.Amazon.com
I can't claim to know much about the human being Domenico Scarlatti – about his conduct or his mentality, that is – but I'm not alone. Amazingly little is known about the man, other than his places of residence, except from mentions of him in the surviving correspondence of his friend, the singer Senesino. There are supposedly descendants of his still living in Madrid, and there is an amusing, eccentric portrayal of him in the Portuguese novel, Baltazar and Blimunda, by Jose Saramago. Thus I'm completely unjustified is supposing that he was 'one bizarre dude' even by the standards of musicians. I wonder if he wasn't clinically depressed for much of his life, or suffering from some syndrome that modern pharmacopeia could alleviate. Whatever his mental state, no one could deny that he was "functional" and productive… (amazon.com)
Michael Maniaci is a male soprano, which is a voice category unfamiliar to many lovers of classical vocal music. Unlike a countertenor, his voice sits naturally in the soprano register. His voice is really all about the fact that his vocal chords experienced fewer changes than what most young men experience when going through puberty. There are very few male sopranos, and Mr. Manicaci is without question the best male soprano in our midst. Thus we have here a singer who perhaps comes closer to giving us at least some idea of what the famous castrati sounded like more than anyone else today. He can sing high C's with ease and the voice here displays great agility and brio. I've listened to this album multiple times, and the more I hear it the more amazing I find it. The first time I heard it I was impressed with this his obvious joy, passion, and real sense of theater. This young male soprano's voice is gorgeous, but Michael Maniaci also understands that there is theater in this music and we can *hear* that in his singing..
"A first-rate recital of rare cantatas and operatic arias . . . . Philippe Jaroussky is described as a countertenor, but in his tone and vocal range he sounds more like a soprano. He soars as effortlessly as a bird, with no sense of strain: perhaps –- for we can never know for certain -– this is how the great castrati of the 18th century sounded. . . . Philippe Jaroussky . . . is sweet-toned, and as well as singing the divisions with wonderful control he shows care for the meaning of the words. The aria from Tito Manlio, which really was written for contralto, finds him duetting with the cello obbligato of Emilia Gliozzi – superb!"– Richard Lawrence, Gramophone