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First performed in Mantua on Boxing Day 1718, Teuzzone is among Vivaldi’s most appealing and unusual operas.Part of the reason is Apostolo Zeno’s libretto – fast-moving, psychologically astute and remarkably the first in Western music to situate its drama in the ‘exotic’ location of Imperial China (though the plot itself remains a typically Italian baroque concoction, all amorous intrigues and political machinations). The main attraction however is Vivaldi’s score, surprisingly varied, expressive and full of imaginative touches, from hushed strings to colourful daubs of oboe and trumpet: there are even a handful of arias whose sinuous melodic charms recall Handel. Le Concert des Nations play with brilliant assurance; Raffaella Milanesi as the dissembling Zidiana and Delphine Galou’s feisty Zelinda make a fine pair of leading protagonists; and male soprano Paolo Lopez, as Teuzzone, overcomes a hint of shrillness as he skips through fiendishly tricky arie di furore with élan.

Graham Lock Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2012 - ©Rhinegold Publishing