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Each disc in Glossa’s ‘Sirene’ series pairs an 18th-century Italian singer with a particular Italian city. Volume one focused on Faustina Bordoni’s visits to Naples; volume two looks at ‘star castrato’ Domenico Gizzi’s time in Rome. That aside, you could almost play spot the difference! Roberta Invernizzi sings both roles and four of the composers on the Faustina disc (Bononcini, Porpora, Sarro, Vinci) also appear on the Gizzi.

Gizzi spent much of his life in Naples, where he founded a singing school, but he did enjoy a dozen years (1718–1730) as the most feted and highly paid star of the Roman opera. The disc’s arias, though drawn from his Roman repertoire, seem ill-chosen to illustrate his vocal preeminence. Moderately appealing rather than spectacular, they include no thrilling heroic rages or epic laments to suggest how Gizzi might have inspired his composers or wowed his audiences. It doesn’t help that all the arias are for strings only; I longed for a recorder, oboe or horn to brighten the increasingly monochrome textural/ timbral monotony.

Roberta Invernizzi sings superbly, but this is a curiously low-key disc, with only an occasional moment of heart-stopping beauty. That the copious booklet notes never mention the arias or their theatrical context is a further frustration.

Graham Lock Read the full review on Agora Classica


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