THE OTHER CLEOPATRA: QUEEN OF ARMENIA
IL TIGRANE ARIAS
ISABEL BAYRAKDARIAN, SOPRANO
CONSTANTINE ORBELIAN – KAUNAS CITY SYMPHONY
DELOS (DE 3591) RECORDED SEPTEMBER 2019
ARIAS BY JOHANN ADOLPH HASSE (1699-1783), ANTONIO VIVALDI (1678-1741), CHRISTOPH WILLIBALD GLUCK (1754-1787)
In this intriguing DELOS release the Armenian-Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian explores the story of Cleopatra of Egypt, Queen Consort of King Tigranes II of Armenia in the operatic music of Hasse, Vivaldi and Gluck, all three of whom wrote operas about the Armenian King.
Much of this music is sober and stately and not yet given to the vocal pyrotechnics that Handel (younger than both Hasse and Gluck) gave to the greatest singers of his time. True, both the rival prima donnas Bordoni and Cuzzoni graced the stages of Europe in stagings of works by Hasse, but by the time Gluck began to have his operas mounted in Italy and Austria, Handel’s opera serias were becoming old fashioned and the text-driven French operas, especially those of Rameau were setting different standards for singers.
Isabel Bayrakdarian does a superb job of bringing to life the multi-faceted character of Cleopatra in music that ranges from the poised to the extravagant. The lyrical sound she must have brought to the Mozartian roles she extensively sang during the first years of her career has developed into that of a spinto soprano, complete with an unabashed use of the chest range, so much so that at times she summons the plumy sound of a mezzo-soprano.
Constantine Orbelian authoritatively conducts the Kaunas Symphony Orchestra, eliciting a lean sound perfectly suited to the High Baroque style of Hasse and Vivaldi as well as to the transitional Early Classical leanings of the young Gluck.
The project is given scholarly annotations by the soprano in the CD’s accompanying booklet and the overall project – production and engineering – is first class in sound and looks.
Rafael de Acha http://www.RafaelMusicNotes.com