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Vivaldi: Il Farnace, opera / Mary-Ellen Nesi, Delphine Galou, Sonia Prina, Loriana Castellano, Emanuele D'Aguanno, Roberta Mameli, Magnus Staveland. Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, 2013 [Blu-ray]

Notes & Reviews:

l Farnace is the most re-written and re-proposed of Vivaldi’s operas, it’s like a beloved child who worries his father, and to whom the parent always wants to give the best. Versions of Farnace, two in 1727 and one each in 1730, 1731 and 1732, had been conceived and adapted to the different circumstances for Venice, Prague, Pavia and Mantua, always with a cast to Vivaldi’s satisfaction and with the composer in control of the production. The greatest appreciation of Vivaldi’s operatic music was expressed in a letter by a spectator of the 1727 Carnival season, the abbot Antonio Conti. He wrote to Madame de Caylus that of all the operas of the Venice season he liked Farnace best because its music was very varied, “between the sublime and the tender”, and because Vivaldi’s pupil worked wonders. In 1738, for the Ferrara Carnival season, Vivaldi wrote a new score of the opera. This is the last Farnace, in two acts, as the third was lost. Conductor Federico Maria Sardelli is one of the world’s leading experts in Vivaldi’s music.

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 151 min.
Region: All
Picture Format: Blu-Ray, 16:9, Color
Sound Format(s): PCM Stereo 2.0, DTS HD Master Audio 5.0
Subtitles: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish


Vocal fireworks right from the get-go…
This performance of “Il Farnace”, recorded at the Teatro Comunale di Firenze, features somewhat minimalist sets and forceful performers, and jumps right into the drama. No gradual warm up period here, as Farnace (voiced by Mary-Ellen Nesi) has been defeated by the Romans and orders his wife Tamiri (Sonia Prina) to kill their son rather than be subjected to Roman captivity. The drama is rather straight-forward, but the voices definitely lend themselves to the emotions to be expressed – excellent job by the individuals responsible for choosing the cast.

There is not much in the way of costuming here – it is also rather minimal as is the set, but is sufficient to indicate the roles and affiliations of the various characters. Set pieces are moved in and out on stage during the production, so this is not the typical “drop the curtain, change the set, raise the curtain” type of experience. The orchestra plays *extremely* well, as the score is particularly energetic and that energy fuels the performances on the stage. I would expect that both the orchestra members and cast members were quite exhausted after the performance.

The liner notes are not exactly sparse, but there is no booklet containing the libretto either. They do contain background on Vivaldi’s vocal choices, the evolution of the various versions of “Il Farnace”, some information on Vivaldi’s rehearsal practices, and the plot summary of the opera.

All in all, if you are looking for a big fully staged opera production, then this is probably not the opera for you. But if you enjoy Vivaldi’s music and are not bothered by the minimalist elements of the sets and costumes and have a bent for the type of conquered vs. conqueror drama depicted here, I think you will enjoy this DVD. I certainly did.

Submitted on 08/18/16 by KlingonOpera 
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Works Details

>Vivaldi, Antonio : Il Farnace, RV 711
  • Performers: Sonia Prina; Loriana Castellano; Emanuele D'Aguanno; Roberta Mameli; Magnus Staveland; Mary-Ellen Nesi; Delphine Galou
  • Conductor: Federico Sardelli
  • Ensemble: Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Chorus
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 02/10/1727
  • Studio/Live: Live