Roberta Invernizzi, Accademia Hermans, Fabio Ciofini
Glossa GCD 922904
Music from Alcina, Berenice, Giulio Cesare, Giustino, Lotario, Poro & Scipione
This CD draws upon the many queens who grace Handel operas, although also the chief female opera divas, Cuzzoni and Strada del Pò, whose technical skill and dramatic presences inspired the music for his most successful female roles. An extended and slightly laboured playing-card metaphor dominates the programme notes, which however also find time to paint in some context for these major female influences on Handel’s writing. Invernizzi is in splendid voice, characterizing Handel’s heroines with a wonderfully varied vocal palette. For some she finds an almost shrew-like quality in her versatile voice, for others a rapturous lyricism, and only occasionally did I find the mannered vibrato in her upper range disconcerting – she more than amply shows that she can sing pure upper notes, but is inclined to lapse into vibrato if these are held for any duration. This is a tiny and maybe idiosyncratic objection to a generally superb and extremely expressive voice.
Ms. Invernizzi is beautifully supported by Accademia Hermans, one of the veritable plethora of simply superb period operatic instrumental ensembles which seem to have sprung up over the last decade. They play with absolute unanimity and powerful expressiveness, and are given a couple of instrumental slots which provide a bit of relief from the otherwise wall-to-wall arias. These are all performances to savour, and are wonderfully evocative of the golden age of Baroque opera in the London of first half of the 18th century.
D. James Ross