Sonia Prina contralto
Vivica Genaux mezzo
Lars Ulrik Mortensen director
The ladies and assorted gents sang/played this show the night before in Copenhagen and the next day their special Baroque papier mache helicopter dropped them on the Wigmore Hall stage.
opera performance? Can you blame me? 😉
This is going to be short and sweet: a blast! Best thing: it was on the Danish radio so this will surface, as some of the arias/duets were nowhere to be found on YT and as such I couldn’t remember what was what aside from: a blast! With endless trills taken in stride by Genaux (she can trill! And she can laugh about it, too) and Attitude from Prina (who knew?! heh heh) and a lot of good humour from Mortensen as well. The orchestra does a very sweet job as well, I wouldn’t mind hearing them again, can do a delicate ending if necessary. So soon after the Barbican Rinaldo concert performance we had Venti, turbini done just the way I like it – with a bassoon-voice on the spot battle that the bassoonist adapted quite quickly and did I mention Attitude? Happy camper in the house.
The house was packed, so I thought I was toast in my backseat next to the wall on the right aisle1. But then this weird thing happened – the ladies at the sweet end of my row got up and walked out just as the show was about to start. Then an usher came over and demanded (in a nice way) to see my ticket (like I would’ve upgraded there?!) saying something to the effect that maybe they had printed doubles and would I like a different seat but if I was fine with where I was sitting that was perfectly ok. Uh, what? This wouldn’t be so funny if it wasn’t the second time in two weeks (!) that this happened to me. With the same seat. I have one more show in that seat and I’m curious if someone rambles at me again about it. Stay tuned.
But since the subject was broached, I mentioned to the gent next to me that, if the ladies weren’t coming back, maybe we could scoot over. He looked at me in a jolly way as if “gosh, what a very funny thing to say, ha ha!” When I saw the doors had closed and the ladies were definitely not coming back I said I was going to sit on the end if he wasn’t moving. He did oblige. I then noticed another seat on the end a few rows up and I escaped from under the overhang. Hurrah!
Then Genaux came out in her black/silver trouser role frock and Prina in unisex black bra-frock, aka, the tattoo showcase frock, and went on frocking for the rest of the evening, with giggles and hand kisses and cheek kisses and hand holding and Attitude – and quite a bit of emotion. Plus these Ba-frock things that are very funny to look at. The countertenors love them too. I think they go with the trills. Their vocal mix was interesting, with Genaux doing a bright thing that did not cover the solid colour of Prina’s lows.
This was my first time hearing Genaux live. Like I said, the trills are beautifully detailed and fast – plus her da capos always lovely – and her Baroque style is superb but I don’t think I’ll ever warm up to her 5 greens of the day tone, especially in the highs, for which she was on duty during this performance. To Prina’s natural manner (she came out bowing to Genaux’ mad display of technique in the aria she brought out to match Prina’s Venti, turbini) she played the girly sidekick, with demure gestures and hands clasped on her chest at the (very, very) warm reception they got.
It was the most Pavarotti’s in the house atmosphere I’ve seen this side of the countertenor fangirling-machine and the JDD superstardom mayhem. Case in point: the applause started even before they sang one note! Haha. Steady, steady, we’re in England. Then again, the day had been much nicer than the wrist-slashers that preceeded it. Leave it to contraltos and mezzos to bring out the sunshine.
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Overture from Rinaldo HWV7
Nicola Porpora (1686-1768)
Vado o caro con la speranza from Elisa
George Frideric Handel
Più d’una tigre altero from Tamerlano
Geminiano Giacomelli (c.1692-1740)
Parti dal core, lasciami in pace from Scipione in Cartagine nuova
George Frideric Handel
Overture from Tamerlano HWV18
Giovanni Bononcini (1670-1747)
La costanza, il timore, l’affetto from Astarto
Mai non potrei goder from Astarto
Attilio Ariosti (1666-1729)
Overture from Vespasiano
Placide a miglior vita from Gianguir
Johann Adolf Hasse (1699-1783)
Parto con l’alma in pene from Siroe, re di Persia
Antonio Lotti (1666-1740)
Sinfonia from Ascanio
Quella destra sì mi porgi from Giove in Argo
Pietro Torri (c.1650-1737)
Vo’ che in mezzo del furore from Nicomede
George Frideric Handel
Venti turbini from Rinaldo
Francesco Gasparini (1661-1727)
Se non temi il mio furore from Eumene
Son nata a lagrimar from Giulio Cesare
(reprise of) Ma non potrei goder? a cute as hell duet, the replay of the Danish radio performance will tell
- sometimes I sacrifice the quality of the seat for the quantity of shows attended… ↩
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.