The name of Leonardo Vinci, not to be confused with Leonardo da Vinci, is little known today, but he succeeded in the intensely competitive opera scene of the 1720s in Naples, at that time one of the greatest cities in the world. His comic operas were among the first to break up the Baroque style and push it toward the simplicity and lightness to come, but here the focus is on opera seria, which he wrote in abundance and for which he commanded libretti from Pietro Metastasio and other top writers of the day. These were virtuoso works, meant to show off a castrato's powers, and they turn out well in voice of the rather punk-imaged Italian countertenor Filippo Mineccia and the small-but-mighty instrumental group Stile Galante. "Galant" is not really the right word for these pieces, and Mineccia is at his best in high-octane arias like "Nella foresta," from the opera Medo (1728). His voice seems to settle into a rather vibrato-heavy middle register and then bloom with delightfully unexpected effect into the top range. He has a great deal of power, and when he tackles one of the castrato's trademark long notes in, say, "Ti calpesto, oh crudo Amore," from Astianatte (track 11), he sounds great. When trapped in the middle range, as in the sacred aria "Ai lampi del tuo lume," he's a bit less successful. But this fine release, augmented by excellent studio sound from Pan Classics, testifies that the opera repertory of the first half of the 18th century is still yielding good stuff and just waiting for committed performers like Mineccia to bring it alive.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Gismondo re di Polonia|
|Oratorio di Maria dolorata|
|Oratorio per la Vergine del Rosario|
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|La contesa de' Numi|