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Ottavio Dantone considers Pergolesi as ‘the greatest Italian opera composer of the eighteenth century’ and this outstanding production from Iesi (Pergolesi’s birthplace) may leave you nodding in agreement. Composed in Naples in 1734 to a Metastasio libretto, Adriano in Siria is a typical opera seria tale of love, betrayal and the Roman Empire. Yet Pergolesi’s music transforms these cliches into arias of thrilling emotional intensity and extraordinary beauty, as in the burnished poignancy of ‘Prigioniera abbandonata’ or the enchanting ‘caged nightingale’ aria, ‘Lieto così tal volta’, originally written for star castrato Caffarelli. Dantone’s young soloists, relatively unknown, burn with conviction and sing superbly, with Lucia Cirillo, Annamaria Dell’Oste and Nicole Heaston truly spellbinding at times. Following Neapolitan custom, Pergolesi added an intermezzo, Livietta e Tracollo for comic relief and Dantone respects that tradition here: mezzo Monica Bacelli and bass Carlo Lepore dispatch the fun with skill and gusto. In fact, every aspect of this enthralling production is close to exemplary.

Graham Lock Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2012 - ©Rhinegold Publishing