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Swedish mezzo Ann Hallenberg offers an interesting selection of arias from Baroque Venice in Carnevale 1729, featuring items performed in the carnival season over eight weeks from December 1728 to February 1729. This remarkable occurrence was due to the glut of fabulous singers who descended upon Venice that winter, causing a frenzy of public excitement and partisan debate, perhaps akin to the rivalry surrounding football matches today. Hallenberg sets herself quite a task, as you don’t attack numbers written for the likes of legendary castrati Farinelli and Senesino and mezzo Bordoni unless you are sure of your technique. She has no worries on this score as she dispatches arias by Giacomelli, Porpora and Vinci with no problems whatsoever, no matter how florid the writing or subdued the vocal line (arias from Orlandini’s Adelaide show her ability to spit fire and tenderly caress a phrase). One caveat, she makes it all sound so smooth and easy that there’s little tension in the programme, despite its artistic balance. But with everything a world premiere recording bar one aria, and with expert accompaniment from Il Pomo d’Oro under Stefano Montanari, it’s an excellent disc.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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