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The name of Domenico Mazzocchi (1592-1665) may be unknown today outside specialist circles, but he was an important figure in Roman musical life in the mid-17 century and indeed composed the first true opera performed in that city. Born 40 miles north of Rome, he entered holy orders at the age of 14 and spent most of his professional career as secretary to Cardinal Aldobrandini; this lefthim time to indulge his passion for composition, whose largest achievement is this opera, written in 1626 for a member of the wealthy Conti family. La catena d’Adone (The Chain of Adonis) tells how the beautiful youth is ensnared by the sorceress Falsirena but eventually freed by his true lover, the goddess Venus. Mazzocchi’s approach derives from works such as Monteverdi’s Orfeo, telling the story in lengthy recitative but incorporating short arias and choruses. It’s extremely attractive music, lovingly performed here by the specialist Brussels-based group Scherzi Musicali under their director Nicolas Achten.

George Hall Read the full review on Agora Classica

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