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GRAMOPHONE (12/2022)
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CPO 555216

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Reviewer :
David Vickers

Idalma (Rome, 1680) has parallels with Don Juan: the womaniser Lindoro keeps a list of his conquests, has deserted Irene in Rome, deflowered Idalma in Naples and eloped with her. By the time the newlyweds travel back to Rome, Lindoro is bored, abandons his bride in the woods and renews his pursuit of Irene – who is now married to Celindo. To make matters more complicated, the steadfast Idalma fends off advances from Irene’s brother Almiro. Eventually, Lindoro sees the errors of his philandering ways and returns to Idalma, Celindo and Irene are reconciled, and all four become the best of friends; no punitive descent to hell proves necessary. Lowbrow wisdom is offered by Lindoro’s bawdy servant Pantano and Irene’s page Dorillo, whose wry last line of recitative presents the opera’s moralistic alternative title ‘He who endures is the victor’.

Rupert Charlesworth’s supple and articulate singing is well suited to the selfish restlessness of the libertine Lindoro. Arianna Vendittelli invests emotive melancholy into the abandoned Idalma; her tormented soliloquy passing through madness until she faints (Act 3 scene 7) is essentially a full-scale chamber cantata lasting nine minutes (its contrasting sections and emotions oscillating between agitation and sorrow foreshadow Handel’s Roman cantata La Lucrezia). Juan Sancho’s forceful timbre conveys Celindo’s jealous suspicions potently albeit unsubtly. Margherita Maria Sala applies polished finesse to Irene. Morgan Pearse sings suavely, with lively fury or tangible sorrow as Almiro. Anita Rosati’s light-toned, boyish voice suits the mischievous page Dorillo, and the servant Pantano is sung robustly by Rocco Cavalluzzi; their sarcastic banter is ferocious even by 17th-century standards.

Innsbruck Early Music Festival’s performing edition is complete; the only uncredited editorial mysteries are a couple of inserted sinfonias and a brief coda for strings after the final quartet. Alessandro De Marchi directs the Innsbruck Early Music Festival orchestra from the harpsichord, and there is a panoply of continuo instruments. The zesty performance seldom declines an opportunity to throw in the kitchen sink, including clattering percussion for good measure whenever comic servants are involved. There are some momentary additions to Pasquini’s scoring, and an implausibly rapid revolving door of continuo instrumentation during a few minuscule arias could afford to be less overactive. Perhaps De Marchi sought to conceal an undeniably pervasive formula to Pasquini’s large number of short, quick-paced, strophic and predominantly triple-time continuo arias (also a few duets and trios). At best, these have fluid momentum, rhythmical vitality and bursts of string ritornellos that fall stylistically somewhere between Stradella and Alessandro Scarlatti.



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