Lucky us who enjoy the early 18th century repertoire! Although Baroque opera is still rather niche, the past 20 years or so have seen a steady increase in recordings, starting with a lot of Handel and Monteverdi. These days singers and conductors have become bolder and have ventured further afield, with Cavalli and Porpora getting more attention. With good reason, too, judging by the material on this CD, which I’ve had on repeat since Sunday.
If you were thinking Porpora, who? this is the disc to convince you of the man’s skills at crafting a memorable Baroque aria, be it bravura or a lyrical piece. I was, in fact, so impressed with the quality of the music included here that I’m now wondering why his stuff isn’t more popular yet. But I think it will soon be, with singers like FF promoting it. if you want to get an idea, here’s 23min of FF singing this material last week in Saint Petersburg:
Honorary mezzo FF is one of those singers you should see live to get the full picture; he’s a consumed performer, and, as I said in my recital review, his warm tone is best experienced in the flesh. So I was a bit apprehensive that the CD would not rise to the challenge of his electrifying live presence. Far from it. He and Academia Montis Regalis succeed in keeping the pizzazz high throughout the recording, with a cleverly balanced mix of fast and slow. The sign of an excellent singer is the capacity of fleshing out both blood pumping pieces and lyrical stuff. FF is equally engaging in both and I say this as a fussy listener. He really is that good.