Mary Bevan / Lucy Crowe / Bridget Cunningham

Handel's Queens: Cuzzoni & Faustina

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Handel's Queens is a 2019 collection from Signum Classics that offers sparkling selections from Baroque operas, many recorded here for the first time. Yet the prolific Handel is only one of several composers of the era represented on this album, which also includes arias by Carlo Pollarolo, Johann Adolph Hasse, Nicola Porpora, Giuseppe Maria Orlandini, Antonio Vivaldi, Pietro Torri, Leonardo Leo, Giovanni Bononcini, Leonardo Vinci, Attilio Ariosti, and Maurice Greene, all prominent figures of Italian opera and, in many cases, Handel's rivals. With so many sharing the program, the true focus of the album appears not to be on the composers, but instead on two of the leading virtuoso sopranos of the day, Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni, whose musical personae are re-created by sopranos Lucy Crowe and Mary Bevan. Both singers and the album's musical director and harpsichordist, Bridget Cunningham, set the stage for some of the Baroque period's most dazzling vocal pyrotechnics, and convey the feeling of excitement that Bordoni and Cuzzoni surely brought to their starring roles, if not the controversies and rumors that surrounded them. As with many such recordings celebrating the great singers of the past, listeners may use their imaginations to delve deeper into the world of Italian opera and its colorful history, though others will be pleased by the spirited artistry displayed by the present artists and the exceptional playing of the London Early Opera ensemble, which make this double disc a treasure trove of 18th century vocal music. Highly recommended.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Scipione HWV 20
1 05:22
Amadis di Grecia
2 04:18
Admeto HWV 22
3 05:27
Il Ciro Riconosciuto
4 04:43
Riccardo Primo HWV 23
5 05:58
Alessandro HWV 21
6 08:17
Astianatte
7 04:34
8 04:18
9 01:31
10 01:18
L'Elpidia HWV A1
11 04:07
Artaserse
12 03:44
Caio Marzio Coriolano
13 05:05
14 05:07
blue highlight denotes track pick