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Sopranos Lucy Crowe and Mary Bevan work with conductor Bridget Cunningham to explore the work of two of Handel’s great prima donnas, Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni, who adeptly milked the frenzy of public fascination over their supposed rivalry. In fact they often shared the stage without mishap while audiences worked themselves up to the point of physical violence. Contemporary reports describe both divas as having stunning coloratura technique to thrill the crowds, as well as seamless legato. Cuzzoni apparently had a particularly pellucid soprano – her arias here are taken by Crowe – and Faustina’s voice was slightly lower and darker, with more thrust – here she is Bevan. The choice of singers in Handel’s Queens seems perfect, for the two excellent and appropriate voices are neatly contrasted while displaying the required virtuosity. Cunningham’s contribution is adroit, with pace and style aplenty and she conducts from the harpsichord.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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