L’Issipile, La nuova musica, classical review
Wigmore Hall, London
Thursday 23 January 2014
Out of the great Baroque cornucopia, always something new: this time an Italian opera which had not seen the light of day since its premiere 275 years ago.
Francesco Bartolomeo Conti’s L’Issipile was written for the Vienna Carnival in 1732, and its convoluted plot – concerning a threatened massacre of returning soldiers by their jealous wives, and the salvation of their leader by his devoted daughter – mined its antique sources for a long tissue of passionate arias. From La nuova musica under David Bates’ direction it got the best conceivable revival.
The starry line-up of soloists had been cleverly chosen. Sopranos Lucy Crowe and Rebecca Bottone complemented each other perfectly, with Crowe’s luscious fullness of tone set off by Bottone’s coloratura (crystalline despite her heavy pregnancy); Diana Montague’s high-tragic mezzo was answered by John Mark Ainsley’s soaringly beautiful tenor, while countertenor Lawrence Zazzo’s translucent timbre was balanced by Flavio Ferri-Benedetti’s extraordinary combination of falsetto fruitiness and baritonal sulphur.
That a long evening literally flew by was thanks both to these stunning performances and to the brilliance with which Bates marshalled his forces, letting each instrument sing out in high definition. No show-stopping aria, but much Handelian bewitchment; will they now stage it? Why not?
TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies
Eurovision 2015Australian Idol winner unveiled as representative Down Under
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 2 Kate Moss: Previously unpublished nude photo revealed by Mert and Marcus
- 3 Indian woman creates 'Marriage CV' after parents put her on dating site: 'Definitely not marriage material. Won’t grow long hair, ever'
- 4 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 5 Bad Jews poster 'censored' on London Tube
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'