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What a wonderful Christmas present Leonardo Vinci’s opera Artaserse will make for lovers of the countertenor voice. Of the six cast members, five are countertenors, the sixth a mere tenor. Vinci’s opera, with its Metastasian libretto, was first performed in Rome in 1730. The music in the ‘galant’ Neapolitan style is irresistibly attractive and had he lived longer (he was poisoned at the age of 34 by the family of one of his many conquests) his name might well be more familiar to opera lovers than it is today. The singing is almost uniformly first-rate. Max Emanuel Cencic seems to have been the prime mover behind the project but it is Franco Fagioli, in the role of Arbace who has some of the most beguiling music. His Act 1 exit aria ‘Vo solcando un mar crudele’ (I am adrifton a cruel sea) provides a perfect showcase for his bravura technique. All is directed with vigour and panache by Diego Fasolis.

Nicholas Anderson Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2012 - ©Rhinegold Publishing