Album review: Philippe Jaroussky, Farinelli – Porpora Arias (Erato)


The interest in castrati continues to grow. In particular, the figure of the legendary Farinelli looms ever larger: this most celebrated of castrati was the main subject of Australian countertenor David Hansen's recent Rivals collection of arias by Vinci, Bononcini, Leo and Broschi; and now Philippe Jaroussky presents an album of arias written by Nicola Porpora for Farinelli. Over string arrangements of a Vivaldian timbre, Jaroussky's gossamer technique is playfully employed on the likes of “Mira in cielo”, the rapid ornamentation verging at times on laughter; but the more undulating upper-register glide of the sublime “Alto Giove” from Polifemo gives some indication of why Porpora's 50 operas were once considered the equal of Handel's.

Download: Alto Giove; La gioia ch'io sento; Mira in cielo; Placidetti zefiretti