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Porpora: Arias / Alan Curtis, Karina Gauvin, Il Complesso Barocco

Album Summary

>Porpora, Nicola : Adelaide, opera
>Porpora, Nicola : Ezio, opera
>Porpora, Nicola : Polifemo, opera
>Porpora, Nicola : Festa d'Imeneo, opera
>Porpora, Nicola : Orlando, opera
>Porpora, Nicola : Arianna in Nasso, opera
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

With her enchanting voice, profound musicality and extraordinary vocal range, the Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin has been seducing audiences and critics around the world. Following the immense success of her CD Handel Arias, she returns with a new recording of arias, most never recorded, from the operas of Nicola Porpora (1686-1768).

"Historians and musicians have assumed than Porpora was an also-ran but such dismissive judgments are in need of some reconsideration. There is no reason why we cannot appreciate and enjoy Porpora's music on its own terms - not least when the singer is the marvelous Karina Gauvin. The disc ends with just over half an hour of highlights from Arianna in Nasso: Gauvin's singing is spellbinding in the climactic scene in which poor Ariadne awakes and gradually realises to her horror that Theseus has abandoned her..." -Gramophone Magazine, March 2010



Reviews

A beautiful voice
Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin has a pretty voice and good Baroque technique—nice trills, ornaments, and coloratura, seamless register breaks, and a pleasing tone. She has that Kathy Battle sweetness about her. I’d be interested in hearing her sing the standard rep—roles like Blondchen, Linda di Chamounix, Adina, etc. For my taste, Porpora’s music is less than exciting. It is pleasant enough and displays the singer’s virtuosic technique, but it all sounds alike. If you get really riled up about Handel, however, you might love it.
Submitted on 09/24/09 by coloraturasop 
PORPORA ARIAS - A WONDERFUL SURPRISE !
Porpora Arias – A Wonderful Surprise! Nicola Porpora (1686-1768) was a composer from the Neopolitan School in Italy who wrote 48 operas and various Religious works. He was considered an excellent vocal coach having the great castrato, Farinelli as his star pupil. He competed unsuccessfully with Handel in London in 1729, and, later in life became one of Franz Joseph Haydn’s early music instructors. His operas are not up to the artistic level of Handel or Vivaldi, but the music is interesting and enjoyable nonetheless. The arias on this CD exhibit interesting orchestral writing replete with creative chromatics, imaginative counterpoint, and subtle use of string suspensions. The vocal lines are driven by brilliant virtuosity and dynamics. I just wish the melodies were a bit more memorable! Since many of these arias were written for castrati (women were not allowed to sing on stage in Rome and other Italian cities at that time) the use of highly virtuosic music was required. Karina Gauvin is one of the opera singers forging the current revolution occurring in early, middle, and late (high) Baroque opera performance. She has a razor-sharp vocal technique, steely sound production, confident and super virtuosity, and a depth of emotional understanding befitting these arias. She sounds both vulnerable and powerful in bringing out the drama of this music. This is her newest release following the many laudable Handel, Vivaldi, and Lully operas she has already recorded. Why Porpora?-In a commercial video made by Atma for this release, Alan Curtis said he just wanted to record a different composer other than Handel-that simple! His contribution to this disc is as usual-authoritative, elegant, and clean-sounding. Curtis is one of the leaders of this current Baroque opera explosion although he’s been at it for over 30 years! I like his recordings in general, but I find that he can be dramatically sterile at times. After all, this genre of opera is “show business”, too. Il Complesso Barocco performs the music superlatively throughout the recording. The CD contains two arias from Adelaide, one from Ezio, one from Polifemo, one from Imeneo, and one from Angelica. All these arias are supposedly world premier recordings. The remainder of this generous 80 minute disc contains the sinfonia and four arias from Arianna in Nazzo (1734). Arianna has been previously recorded in full but the less said about Gauvin’s counterpart in that recording the better. The highlight for me is the aria “Misera Sventurata” from Arianna. The aria is beautifully crafted with a haunting obbligato solo oboe throughout. The oboe and soprano interweave the delicate theme creating a most tender and memorable musical experience. This is Porpora worth knowing! The sound of this disc is very good but the orchestra is a bit recessed and Gauvin a bit too forward. You have to increase the volume just slightly to get better orchestral definition – too much and Gauvin is too loud. Her recordings for Naïve and Archiv are balanced better. The booklet reviews the arias from a musicological and historical perspective and they are complete in Italian, French, and English. The photographs of the recording sessions are a nice touch. If you love Baroque opera, this disc is a valuable supplement to the wonderful recordings Alan Curtis and Karina Gauvin have already given us. ENJOY!
Submitted on 09/24/09 by ProfessorJF 
Porpora to good purpose
To many modern listeners the Neapolitan composer Nicola Porpora is mostly remembered for being one of Handel’s rivals for supremacy on the London stage. Anti-Handel factions formed The Opera of the Nobility, a company whose purpose was to bring down the Royal Academy of Music (Handel’s company) and Porpora was their chief composer. Despite the fact that Porpora wrote five operas, an oratorio and other works, the company failed and Porpora left London. The London affair is only part of Porpora’s story because he was a major talent and a widely respected composer of his day. He wrote over 50 operas, taught the singers Farinelli and Cafarelli as well as the composer Hasse. He was Kapellmeister at the Dresden court and while at Dresden took on a young man named Franz Joseph Haydn as his valet, pupil and accompanist. While there have not been many complete recordings of Porpora’s operas—even the seminal Neapolitan Baroque series on Naïve hasn’t touched him—this disc by Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin with Alan Curtis leading Il Complesso Barocco fills a huge gap. I think Gauvin is one of the most exciting singers on the scene and while she is quite familiar to fans of early music (check out her Handel and French Baroque recital albums on ATMA Classique); this recording should have enough appeal to put her on the radar of anyone who enjoys glorious singing. Glorious it is. Porpora’s music is rich with twisting vocal lines, highly dramatic recitatives and melody aplenty, it is very Baroque indeed. I can find no fault with anything Gauvin sings here. She is blessed with a bountiful voice that lacks nothing in warmth or clarity and she handles the treacherous fioritura with ease. When needed she can summon plenty of brightness too, but it’s not an Emma Kirkby-styled English soprano glow, think of something more Mediterranean. Curtis and company are superb accompanists and even get to take a solo turn in the Overture to Porpora’s Arianna. This is fattening music so I would suggest enjoying it in small sips, perhaps a few arias at a time, and you will be well pleased. I was.
Submitted on 10/01/09 by Craig Zeichner 
Brava Karina!
I've heard Karina Gauvin as soloist in several works (including a lovely Mozart Requiem), and looked forward to this album of arias by Nicolo Porpora, in his time a major opera composer. He may not have Handel's gift of instantly memorable melody, but his music falls easily on the ear, and calls for the soloist to display virtuoso technique in a variety of emotions (the majority of them less than happy). Gauvin’s tone seems a bit darker than I remember, but she still spins out a warm lyric line, and in coloratura passages, she avoids the extremes of Fleming’s smudginess and Bartoli’s machine-gunning. Il Complesso Barocco provide elegant support on period instruments, and go solo in one overture. Texts are included, with the booklet notes filling in details of the operas' plots and original productions.
Submitted on 12/20/09 by Jim D. 
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Works Details

>Porpora, Nicola : Adelaide, opera :: Aria. Nobil onda
  • Performer: Karina Gauvin (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Notes: Lonigo, Villa San Fermo (Convento deo Pavoniani), Venezia, Italia (10/01/2008-10/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 24 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque

>Porpora, Nicola : Adelaide, opera :: Aria. Non sempre invendicata
  • Performer: Karina Gauvin (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Notes: Lonigo, Villa San Fermo (Convento deo Pavoniani), Venezia, Italia (10/01/2008-10/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque

>Porpora, Nicola : Ezio, opera :: Recitativo ed aria. Misera, dove son?
  • Performer: Karina Gauvin (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Notes: Lonigo, Villa San Fermo (Convento deo Pavoniani), Venezia, Italia (10/01/2008-10/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 31 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque

>Porpora, Nicola : Ezio, opera :: Aria. Non son io che parlo
  • Performer: Karina Gauvin (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Notes: Lonigo, Villa San Fermo (Convento deo Pavoniani), Venezia, Italia (10/01/2008-10/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 22 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque

>Porpora, Nicola : Polifemo, opera :: Rec. Acc. Aci, amato mio bene
  • Performer: Karina Gauvin (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Notes: Lonigo, Villa San Fermo (Convento deo Pavoniani), Venezia, Italia (10/01/2008-10/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 45 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Opera/Operetta

>Porpora, Nicola : Polifemo, opera :: Aria. Smanie
  • Performer: Karina Gauvin (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Notes: Lonigo, Villa San Fermo (Convento deo Pavoniani), Venezia, Italia (10/01/2008-10/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 24 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Opera/Operetta

>Porpora, Nicola : Festa d'Imeneo, opera :: Aria. Mi chiederesti meno
  • Performer: Karina Gauvin (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Notes: Lonigo, Villa San Fermo (Convento deo Pavoniani), Venezia, Italia (10/01/2008-10/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 41 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque

>Porpora, Nicola : Orlando, opera :: Aria. Mentre rendo a te vita
  • Performer: Karina Gauvin (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Notes: Lonigo, Villa San Fermo (Convento deo Pavoniani), Venezia, Italia (10/01/2008-10/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 6 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque

>Porpora, Nicola : Arianna in Nasso, opera :: Ouverture
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Notes: Lonigo, Villa San Fermo (Convento deo Pavoniani), Venezia, Italia (10/01/2008-10/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 11 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 12/1733

>Porpora, Nicola : Arianna in Nasso, opera :: Aria. Ah che langue
  • Performer: Karina Gauvin (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Notes: Lonigo, Villa San Fermo (Convento deo Pavoniani), Venezia, Italia (10/01/2008-10/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 51 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 12/1733

>Porpora, Nicola : Arianna in Nasso, opera :: Aria. Il tuo dolce mormorio
  • Performer: Karina Gauvin (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Notes: Lonigo, Villa San Fermo (Convento deo Pavoniani), Venezia, Italia (10/01/2008-10/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 23 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 12/1733

>Porpora, Nicola : Arianna in Nasso, opera :: Rec. Acc. Misera, e che farò?
  • Performer: Karina Gauvin (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Notes: Lonigo, Villa San Fermo (Convento deo Pavoniani), Venezia, Italia (10/01/2008-10/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 12/1733

>Porpora, Nicola : Arianna in Nasso, opera :: Aria. Misera sventurata
  • Performer: Karina Gauvin (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Notes: Lonigo, Villa San Fermo (Convento deo Pavoniani), Venezia, Italia (10/01/2008-10/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 19 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 12/1733

>Porpora, Nicola : Arianna in Nasso, opera :: Aria. Si caro ti consola
  • Performer: Karina Gauvin (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Notes: Lonigo, Villa San Fermo (Convento deo Pavoniani), Venezia, Italia (10/01/2008-10/04/2008)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 13 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 12/1733