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.
Naples in 1750 was one of the ten biggest cities in the world, and it spawned two of the biggest musical stars of the era: the castrati Farinelli and the much lesser known Caffarelli, whose real name was Gaetano Majorano. This release consists of arias written for Caffarelli, and you might treasure it for the flamboyant, high-volume singing of countertenor Franco Fagioli, who arguably comes as close as any of his contemporaries to conveying what the high-powered sound of the castrati was like (in the understandable absence of the genuine article).
Orfeo ed Euridice (French version: Orphée et Eurydice; English translation: Orpheus and Eurydice; Spanish Translation: Orfeo y Eurídice) is an opera composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck based on the myth of Orpheus, set to a libretto by Ranieri de' Calzabigi. It belongs to the genre of the azione teatrale, meaning an opera on a mythological subject with choruses and dancing...
Until it was revived in the late twentieth century, Handel's opera Faramondo was performed just eight times in London in 1738 and then fell into obscurity. According to the conventions of Italian opera of the period, men's roles were often written for women, in spite of the lack of dramatic realism, and the use of castrati was common, so higher voices strongly predominate. Handel wrote the title role, which would have gone to a castrato, usually a male alto, for Cafarelli, who had the range of a mezzo-soprano. This recording is exceptional in its use of countertenors in all the male roles, and it's intriguing to hear together the variety of voice types lumped together as "countertenors"; the singers here are distinctly males altos, mezzo sopranos and sopranos. The early twenty first century is blessed with an abundance of extraordinarily fine countertenors, and the singers on this recording are exceptional, with voices of great tonal fullness and purity, agility, and individuality.
Until recently, so much of this first opera that Handel wrote for Italy was lost that it was unviable to stage it. The rediscovery of the missing material, a triumph of scholarly detective work, reveals the confident high spirits which characterise so much of Handel’s music during his Italian visit. It lacks the instrumental colours of his more lavish London productions, with many arias supported by continuo alone. All are here, complete (even six which Handel himself discarded), but many are brief and, under Curtis’s lively direction, the dramatic tension builds up splendidly. He has also shortened the recitative, reflecting Handel’s own tendency later, in England, when writing for a non-Italian speaking audience. After a fleeting moment of uncertainty in the Overture, the orchestral playing is superb throughout. Both Banditelli (Rodrigo) and Calvi (Fernando) are well-characterised in their trouser roles, an apt touch of darkness in the voice reflecting Handel’s original castrati. Piau is appealing as Rodrigo’s forgiving wife in some of the most memorable arias – her first with delicate flutes, in Act II, confusing the ear with ambiguous up-beat rhythms. Fedi, as Rinaldo’s rejected mistress, is uncomfortably hard-edged when passions are roused. Outstanding is Müller, duetting alluringly with bassoon, strutting arrogantly in a victory celebration. (George Pratt, BBC Music Magazine)