Handel: Serse / Fagioli, Genaux

Album cover art for upc 028948357840
Label: DG
Catalog: 4835784
Format: CD

Franco Fagioli (Serse), Vivica Genaux (Arsamente), Inga Kalna (Romilda), Francesca Aspromonte (Atalanta), Andrea Mastroni (Ariodate), Delphine Galou (Amastre), Biagio Pizzuti (Elviro) Il Pomo d ́Oro Orchestra, Maxim Emelyanychev

The first recording of the opera with a countertenor in the title role! Serse is one of the most popular Handel operas; it is set in Persia (modern-day Iran) about 470 BC and is very loosely based upon Xerxes I of Persia. Serse, originally sung by a soprano castrato, is now regularly performed by a mezzo-soprano or countertenor. The Italian libretto has a fascinating history, because it is based on one by Nicolò Minato from 1654 and was later adapted by Silvio Stampiglia (for an opera by Giovanni Bononcini in 1694). It is however unknown who eventually re-wrote the libretto for Handel. The three-act opera was premiered in London on 15. April 1738 at the Londoner Kings' Theatre and sadly had no success at all. After 5 performances they had to take it off the schedule and the opera was forgotten for almost 200 years! The famous opening aria, "Ombra mai fu", sung by Serse to a plane tree (Platanus orientalis), is one of Handel’s best known melodies for its outstanding beauty. Francesca Aspromonte appears courtesy of Pentatone Records

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