Cantatas by the Red Priest and his contemporaries were themed around the abandoned lover, brought vividly to life by Renata Pokupić.
Alessandro Scarlatti’s Notte ch'in carro d'ombre (Night, in the chariot of shadows) opened proceedings with a shaded Sinfonia from violins and harpsichord, setting an introspective and melancholy atmosphere before an energised and sunny approach was given rein. Pokupić impressed from her first notes. This hymn to night and tortured love consists of alternating recitative and aria, the most touching of which, ‘Vieni, o notte’, displayed the singer’s gift for expression both vocally and in gesture.
Vivaldi and Marcello wrote for the great singer Faustina Bordoni. The Vivaldi, Che giova il sospirar (What use poor heart to sigh), was preceded by his A-major Concerto (RV158). The verve of La Serenissima was fabulous, Adrian Chandler in masterful control. In the Cantata, vocal ornamentation was show-stopping.
The second half piled on the drama, presenting the despair of abandoned noble women, Arianna and Dido. Unlike Monteverdi, whose timeless Arianna’s Lament is a glory, Marcello unexpectedly settles for a happy conclusion. Giovanni Alberto Ristori’s Didone abbandonata was the discovery of the evening: a nuanced and theatrical setting with hints of early classicism. Pokupić’s operatic gifts were fully on display emphasising Dido’s searing grief and La Serenissima was on fire.
- Broadcast on BBC Radio 3 at 7.30 p.m. on Friday March 22 (available on BBC iPlayer for thirty days afterwards)
- Wigmore Hall www.wigmore-hall.org.uk