It may come as a surprise to learn that a number of Mozart soprano arias were originally written for the powerhouse voice of the castrato. Mozart's career, in fact, coincided with the beginning of the end for the castrato tradition, and the final piece included here, "Voi che sapete" from Le nozze di Figaro, was in fact not written for a castrato; by 1786 they were becoming scarce. Romanian countertenor Valer Sabadus' recital is short at just under 50 minutes, and the blooming sacred aria Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165, which was written for one of the castrati whose careers are represented here, might have made a stronger finale. This aside, many lovers of Mozart opera will appreciate this release. It's not just the attractively smooth, if a bit monochromatic, voice of Sabadus, which has plenty of delicacy in quieter upper-register passages. It's the chance to hear arias like "Non ho colpa" from Idomeneo, rè di Creta, K. 366, where the male voice suggests a different kind of balance with the dense, energetic orchestral writing that characterizes this over-the-top opera seria. The alert, adequately sized support from the re-creation-Großes Orchester Graz under Michael Hofstetter is also a plus here, and there's no denying that the creamy singing of Sabadus is a pleasure to hear in the lighter comic-opera pieces earlier in the program. Oehms delivers very nice sound from a pair of live recitals in a concert hall in Graz in December 2013. Presenters distressed by audience coughing may wish to retain Stefianiensaal personnel as consultants: they somehow managed to suppress every trace of it.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|La finta giardiniera, KV 196|
|Lucio Silla, KV 135|
|La clemenza di Tito, KV 621|
|Idomeneo, Rè di Creta, KV 366|
|Le nozze di Figaro, KV 492|