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Pergolesi’s Adriano in Siria was premiered in Naples in 1734. Its libretto by Metastasio, which concerns the Emperor Hadrian’s time as Governor of Syria, certainly hit the Zeitgeist: rather remarkably, it was flogged to death and set by almost 70 composers, from Caldara in 1732 to Mercadante in 1828. Countertenor Franco Fagioli really pulls out all the stops as Farnaspe, a role written for the castrato Cafarelli who must have been superhuman in his vocal abilities. Two-octave lunges, phrases without end – Fagioli relishes it all. Yuriy Mynenko’s countertenor is juicier-toned, and he successfully tackles the titular Adriano, a role originally created by a soprano. Romina Basso is a gorgeous Emirena, smoothly vocalised and extremely expressive. The remaining cast is good if not outstanding, and Jan Tomasz Adamus conducts with brio.  The opera is worth hearing, with some striking effects, but does have an acreage of recitative which is sometimes delivered with duty rather than drama.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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