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With Catone in Utica, first performed in Verona in 1737, Vivaldi enjoyed one of his last successes in the opera house. Unfortunately, his music for Act 1 has vanished, so this recording features a reconstruction by violinist Alessandro Ciccolini. Rather than import arias from other operas Ciccolini has composed his own, drawing chiefly on Vivaldi’s instrumental music (a practice Vivaldi himself sometimes adopted). These imitations, though well crafted, seem unnecessary; a recording of Vivaldi’s own music for Acts 2 and 3 would surely have sufficed. In a strong cast, Roberta Mameli’s Cesare and Ann Hallenberg’s Emilia stand out, albeit they have the advantage of singing the opera’s finest arias. Mameli’s beguiling ‘Se mai senti spirarti sul volto lieve’ is the highlight, though Hallenberg’s anguished ‘Nella foresta’, punctuated by fierce horns, is hardly less enthralling. The lengthy recitatives are a drawback, needing a far speedier dispatch than Alan Curtis allows here.

Graham Lock Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing