Franco Fagioli FTW (Wigmore Hall, 21 September 2014)
I’m a traitor. Yep. Self confessed mezzo worshiper what do I do? Ask Franco Fagioli when he’s singing Sesto again. But you know what? If there’s one countertenor who deserves to sing Sesto it’s him. I know this because I just got back from seeing him sing Porpora1. Makes perfect sense, eh? Porpora, Mozart, that diddly-diddly 18th century stuff. FYI, he said he didn’t know when. But he added (without me twisting his arm) that Tito was a great piece. Not just an amazing singer but a smooth talker too 😉 Up close he struck me as very cuddly and surprisingly slightly built so I asked him if I could give him a hug. He obliged. Poor singers, see what they have to subject themselves to even after singing for their money?! This is a positive “review” so everyone’s a winner.
After a whirlwind day that started with the commute from hell – arriving 1 1/2 hours late at work whilst the boss just happens to be there – I managed to sweet talk my way out of work half an hour earlier than normal so that I could meet fellow blogger thadieu, who was just finishing her short stay in London (should’ve accepted the couch offer and stayed for FF(FTW)! – even considering the possibility of me being an axe murderer 😉 ). Got a better set-up for a recital than a lively hour of opera talk with a like minded blogger? I didn’t know so much opera territory could be covered in a mere hour! Singers (all of them), opera venues (most of them), opera trips, recitals, productions. But if you’ve already had a chance meeting, why not another one? When the house announced FF was going to sign CDs I knew today was all about meeting people. It really pays sitting in the rows at the back, you’re the first in the signing queue (shwing!).
I know you’d like to hear more about my day but I’m not that star of this show. I mean I could sing some Porpora I just don’t want to. Heh.
Porpora (with some Vivaldi thrown in for good measure)
Sinfonia in G RV149 (Vivaldi)
Se tu la reggi al volo from Ezio
Vorrei spiegar l’affanno from Semiramide
Concerto in F for oboe, strings and continuo RV 455 (Vivaldi)
Torbido intorno al core from Meride e Selinunte
Già si desta la tempesta from Didone Abbandonata
Distillatevi o cieli from Il Verbo in Carne
Con alma intrepida from Meride e Seliunte
Cello Concerto in C minor RV401 (Vivaldi)
Non lasciar chi t’ama tanto from Vulcano
Spesso di nubi cinto from Carlo il Calvo II
Alto Giove from Polifemo
Nell’attendere il mio bene from Polifemo
Conductor: Alessandro de Marchi | Academia Montis Regalis
This was FF’s debut recital at Wigmore Hall and it ended up being a roaring success. As a chatty gent I met in the queue (told you, it was that kind of day) wryly noticed, it sounded like the house was rocking with groupies. But why not? Young opera singers deserve groupies their age (FF’s younger than me), rock stars can’t own them all. It wasn’t just the groupies who gave him tremendous applause in the end. I’ll tell you though, this was the youngest Baroque crowd I’ve seen so far, lots of people younger than me among the Wigmore Hall regulars. All hail The Golden Age of the Countertenor.
In spite of all that swanning about regarding being a traitor, I obviously like FF because he sounds so mezzo-ish. It’s not just bright sound and high notes floating angelically above nothing else. If fact he’s one of them singers who have a bright top and a darker low… end, which he impressed us with (especially in Già si desta la tempesta – you guessed, a storm-at-sea bravura aria) until half of us were on the brink of swooning. I kid. But only a little. He dipped to some bad-arse baritonal lows, lower than he does on CD. Hells yea, that’s what I’m talking about. Check it out below,
it’s from last week’s show at the Festival d’Ambronay with the same team. Since that one was taken down, here’s another one from St. Petersburg:
Only he ventured much lower today – I think, the sound isn’t very good, he seems to have gone nicely low there (edit: 10/10/14).
Not that he’s all about contrasting bright and dark, high and low. He’s also a lot about warmth. I don’t think it comes off on recordings just what a warm voice he’s got. Buttah with a good dollop of honey kind of thing. Not sickeningly sweet, just very lyrical. Very, very tender; maybe the gentlest-yet-not-whingy I’ve heard live? Hence why I thought dude, this chap needs to sing more Ariodante and is allowed to sing Sesto by dehggi’s Quality Sesto Preservation Commitee (QSPC), because we all know Sesto is the quintessential tender lover. I know I was way tired today but the dam broke during Alto Giove. I wasn’t exactly bawling but tears were shed on the altar of beauty of sound and expression.
He gets to do both here (this aria was not part today’s show but you see what I mean). Another video taken down… (edit:10/10/14)
The “crew” was tight and regaled us with some rather surprisingly creative instrumentals2 in between the
meat dishes singing bits. A well thought out show.
So yea, a special super sociable day to crown a week that covered some amazing emotional ground and a simply nutty weekend with so many highs and lows I sometimes don’t have in a whole month.