Franco Fagioli and Il Pomo d’Oro took the Salle Gaveau by storm with a program based on their award winning album Arias for Caffarelli (Naïve).
Fagioli’s first offering was “Passaggier che sulla sponda” from Porpora’s Semiramide riconosciuta. Moving effortlessly between soprano-tessitura falsetto and the modal voice, the Argentinian countertenor immediately impressed with scope of his range, and the willingness to bring out the lower passages by audaciously yet tastefully employing the full chest voice.
Fagioli’s excellent, well supported, and soaring legato was evident in Hasse’s “Ebbi da te la vita” from Siroe rè di Persia. In “Misero pargoletto” from Leo’s Demofoonte, Fagioli built and sustained the tension of the piece using understated dynamics and excellent breath control. In this, more than any other aria, the similarity with Bartoli was most evident.
The first half of the concert ended as it began with Semiramide riconosciuta, this time Vinci’s version. “In braccio a mille furie” is a sensational tour de force for both singer and orchestra: fast, furious, and relentless. Fagioli relished the demands of the piece, discharging A5’s and B5’s with unnerving ease. Herbert Walser and Andreas Lakner were superb in the brass accompaniment, and Riccardo Coelati on Double Bass did a fantastic job of impersonating the missing Timpani.
It always astounds me that one can recognise the power and intensity of Pergolesi from just the first few bars of an aria. Fagioli was mesmerising in the nearly 12-minute-long “Lieto così talvolta” from Pergolesi’s Adriano in Siria. The interaction with Riccardo Minasi on the violin (standing in for the Oboe) was sumptuous and seductive.
“Fra l’orror della tempesta” from Hasse’s Siroe rè di Persia is possibly one of the most stunning Baroque arias ever written. The piece is a virtuosic fanfare of vocal fireworks. Fagioli’s superior technique shines through with several exposed notes above the stave, drops into the modal voice, and many phrases running across the lower-middle falsetto voice all perfectly executed.
Fagioli ended the concert with the electric “Odo il suono di traomba guerriera” from Manna’s Lucio Papirio dittatore. Just one note away from a full three octaves, Fagioli pushes his range to the limit! His fully supported dive into the baritone register with a wonderful E3, his almost endless trill, and a blistering D6 all came together to earn him a rapturous applause.
As encores, Fagioli gave “Sperai vicino il lido” from Leonardo Leo’s Demofoonte, and “Un cor che ben ama” by Sarro. In the former, Fagioli alternates between languid phases and coruscating coloratura. The latter contains some fiendish writing for the trumpet. Fagioli sprinted through the sea of semiquavers with complete security, astounding given all he had already sung that evening. Between the two, it was announced that the CD Arias for Caffarelli (Naïve) had been awarded a 'Choc de l'Année' from Classica magazine!
The accompaniment from Il Pomo d’Oro was excellent, as I have come to expect. We were treated to theSinfonia from Sarro’s Demofoonte, Avitrano’s Sonata in D major, the Sonata in G min by Ragazzi, and the Introduzione from Il Ciro riconosciuto. Special mention must go to Riccardo Minasi for his excellent direction and fabulous violin playing.
© James Edward Hughes 2013