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Hallenberg, Il Pomo d’Oro and the ghost of Senesino crop up again in Ottone, the latest opera revived under the auspices of countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic for Decca. Ottone’s composition in 1723 was the source of the much repeated story of Handel threatening to defenestrate stroppy leading lady Cuzzoni unless the towed the line. In the interests of self-preservation she did, and thankfully her elegiac music made the premiere of the opera: on this recording it is sung by the young Lauren Snouffer with such gorgeously limpid and fluent tone that surely it heralds a major career. Senesino’s role is taken by Cencic with his usual flair and ability, likewise Hallenberg as Gismonda, here sounding more dramatically engaged than in her solo disc. Xavier Sabata also embellishes his reputation with some beautifully simple singing, which is in fact anything but easy. Ottone abounds with such moments, but conductor George Petrou refrains from his sometime habit of over-emphasising every effect and lets the sophisticated scoring and restrained elegance of the music speak for itself. The recitatives are lively and there’s a good sense of dramatic propulsion. With the addition of an appendix of arias for the 1726 revision for Senesino it’s a valuable release.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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