Philippe Jaroussky

Ombra mai fu: Francesco Cavalli Opera Arias

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Is countertenor Philippe Jaroussky's voice losing some of its uncanny leaping creaminess as he enters his fifth decade? Maybe marginally, but that's more than counterbalanced by his recent efforts to move into the new (or older) territory of the 17th century. Here he takes on the music of Francesco Cavalli in a wonderful collection that can serve as an introduction to this composer as well as a display of Jaroussky's vocal gifts; many of Cavalli's operas are sampled. Cavalli is not exactly a household name, but this Venetian composer as much as anyone else turned going to the opera into the public event that it remains today. He combined the epic mode of Monteverdi with more modern aria types and humorous elements, both of which are abundantly on display here. They are handled nicely by Jaroussky, and he goes into new vocal territory when doing so. Sample the aria "Cieche tenebre" from the opera Pompeo Magno, which gives the countertenor's low register a workout and finds it in good shape. Jaroussky leads off with "Ombra mai fu" from Cavalli's Xerse, an aria whose title will be familiar even to casual opera listeners because Handel set the same text, and the same libretto, 85 years later (spelling it as Serse). This shows not only the general persistence of 17th century ideas into the High Baroque, but also the influence of Cavalli specifically, and listeners will enjoy comparing the two settings. There are tender love songs, stirring martial arias, and action-packed scenes. Jaroussky is backed by his handpicked Ensemble Artaserse, and the ensemble seems to breathe. Highly recommended.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
Il Xerse
1 03:19
Statira, principessa di Persia
2 03:05
L'Erismena
3 00:56
4 05:46
La Calisto
5 02:51
6 04:15
Eliogabalo
7 01:59
Elena
8 03:34
Ercole amante
9 00:54
Eliogabalo
10 03:27
L'Ormindo
11 03:19
Gli amori d'Apollo e di Dafne
12 00:53
13 04:20
L'Orione
14 03:30
Eritrea
15 02:29
Il Giasone
16 03:49
Doriclea
17 01:25
La Calisto
18 03:26
La virtù de' strali d'Amore
19 01:02
Pompeo Magno
20 02:23
Il Xerse
21 02:13
La virtù de' strali d'Amore
22 00:41
23 02:32
24 02:55
blue highlight denotes track pick