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Selected Reviews for "Farinelli"

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farinelli ARIAS FOR FARINELLI – (harmonia mundi – HMC 901778 [1])


Nominated for a Grammy© Award as
“Best Classical Vocal Performance”

ONE OF THE BEST VOCAL RELEASES OF 2002:
Anne Midgette, The New York Times (Sunday Arts & Leisure Section), December 29, 2002

BEST OF THE YEAR/2002 – Recitals of Virtue
The Editors, Opera News, January 2003

 

 


EDITOR’S CHOICE:

“NEW GIRL IN TOWN—Mezzo Vivica Genaux stakes her claim to virtuoso status with an album of Italian Baroque arias written for the legendary Farinelli.
The performances by mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin under René Jacobs are of the highest quality.  Genaux’s voice frequently puts the listener in mind of Marilyn Horne’s early recordings.  Tone becomes more compact, rather than spread, in the low registers, there is plenty of breath at the end of phrases, and a rapid vibrato is often favored (The upper range is a little thinner and more girlish than Horne’s.)  In an era when we so often read of a singer who ‘lacks a real trill,’ Genaux’s is remarkably clean, perhaps the best in the business today.  She is especially noteworthy for her facility in wide leaps and arpeggios.  These are on such ample display in the first section of an excerpt from Idaspe, by Riccardo Broschi (brother of Farinelli), that we can only wonder what she could possibly add in the da capo repeat.  Quite a bit more, it turns out.  Yet she is not the type to call attention to her gifts; an eye-popping leap up a seventh in another Broschi aria is all the more effective because it is not telegraphed.
And Genaux is also a virtuoso in calmer music. In an aria from Porpora’s Polifemo, she traces the shapes of lines with a great variety of stresses yet never loses the forward progression, an din Hasse’s “Per questo dolce amplesso” from Artaserse, she weighs the expressive potential of each interval.  (In an elegant bit of programming, we are also offered an aria Porpora wrote for a revival of Artaserse, though it turns out to e quite conventional.)  Best of all is an excerpt from Geminiano Giacomelli’s Adriano in Siria.  Here, Genaux shows how the da capo form ought to work.  She is attentive to the various ways in which the B section contrasts with the A section (in this case, how the clouds lift), and these qualities inform the repeat of the A section.  A musical repeat should never be an emotional repeat, and Genaux makes this clear.”
William R. Braun, Opera News, October 2002

“In the pop music world, album release dates are anticipated and hyped; in classical music, they often pass nearly unnoticed.  But last week, Harmonia Mundi France released a classical album that truly deserved the term ‘long-awaited.’  ‘Arias for Farinelli,’ showcasing the Alaskan mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux and the Belgian early-music conductor René Jacobs, came out in Europe in April to huge acclaim, generating eager anticipation of its release in the United States.
In the absence of recordings, the only concrete evidence lies in the repertory he sang, written at a time when composers literally tailored opera arias to singers.  The arias here (by Porpora, Hasse, Giacomelli and Farinelli's brother, Riccardo Broschi) call for a huge range, a reliable trill and the ability to execute complex ornamentation — indicated, in one case, by Farinelli himself.
Ms. Genaux may not yet have attained the eminence of Farinelli, but she possesses a trait that is all too rare, even among so-called Baroque specialists: the ability to negotiate a fiendishly difficult bout of vocal fireworks accurately, on pitch and with a sense of enjoyment rather than abject terror.  There's a husky note to her amber voice, coloring it richly, from gutsy low notes to flowing freedom on top.  On first hearing, this one sounds like a keeper.”
Anne Midgette, The New York Times, September 15, 2002

“The operatic heyday of castrati lasted from 1650 to 1750 and the most famous of them was the singer Carlo Broschi, known as Farinelli.”Arias for Farinelli" (harmonia mundi) features the rising Alaska-born mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux, in a series of firecrackers by Baroque masters.  It shows how the qualities of one particular voice were exploited by composers who knew it inside out.  Miss Genaux sings dazzlingly florid passagework and ornament with ease and intelligence.  Conductor René Jacobs and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin are heaven-sent partners.”
Barrymore Laurence Scherer, The Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2002


 
 
Headline: ARIAS FOR FARINELLI: GENAUX IS STRIKING EVEN SANS HANDEL
CLASSIC (Highest rating):
“The latest singer to join the seemingly endless ranks of first-rate mezzo- sopranos is the Alaskan-born Vivica Genaux, who has made a splash elsewhere with her performances of Rossini and various Baroque composers, but has yet to be heard in these parts. This superb recital disc makes clear just how much we've been missing.
Genaux's gifts would seem to be prodigious, beginning with a voice of striking warmth and beauty and a formidable level of rhythmic mastery and breath control. Just as notable is the evenness and fluidity of her tone throughout her entire range; the top notes sound as full-bodied and precisely placed as the lowest. Add in a command of Baroque style that allows her to sing the most grueling music with utmost naturalness, and the results are phenomenal. “
What's striking about Genaux's choices, however, is that she has assiduously avoided anything by Handel, the most famous composer to write for Farinelli. Instead, she delivers music by Porpora, Hasse, Broschi and Giacomelli -- all but the last composers from the very top of the second rank. It's good to hear this music, especially done so ravishingly, but I couldn't help wishing she had thrown in a little Handel, if only as an encore.”
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, September 22, 2002

FOUR STARS (Highest Rating):
“It would be hard to overpraise Genaux's spectacular renditions. This mezzo-soprano has a voice of liquid purity mixed with just the right degree of metal, and a near-perfect technique that allows her to toss off long stretches of fioritura with deceptive ease; in fact, the listener may not realize just how hard this music is and what feats this singer is accomplishing.”
“This is a must-have disc; there's not likely to be anything to rival it for grand-manner vocalism in the foreseeable future.”
Robert Croan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 8, 2002


“Alaska-born mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux handles the pieces in ‘Arias for Farinelli’ as if they'd been written for her.  This is an astounding voice: rich, brilliant, beautiful, with a terrific trill and adept at tossing off the toughest coloratura runs as if they were a vocalise.  And she does it all with innate taste and understanding, assisted by the scholarly René Jacobs.  This is singing for singing’s sake…no one who loves great vocalism should miss it.”
Sarah Bryan Miller, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 2002


“René Jacobs believes the parts [written for castrati] should be given to female mezzo-sopranos, who have both the range and the power. A remarkable new CD, Arias for Farinelli with Vivica Genaux and Mr. Jacobs, puts this theory into practice, with spectacular results.” 
“This spectacular new release won't be to everyone's taste, but it's a winner of its kind.”  “Ms. Genaux combines impressive vocal athletics and a beautiful lyric style.”
Olin Chism, Dallas Morning News, November 17, 2002


FOUR STARS (Highest Rating):
“The music is written to employ a huge vocal and emotional range, and it comes blazingly alive when touched by the Genaux voice.  Rarely is such a rich, warm, colorful voice so flexible, and rarely is the mind behind it so well informed as to employ a wide range of true-to-the-period coloratura techniques.  All of that, plus the confident direction of conductor Jacobs, makes this one of the best vocal discs of the year.”
Knight Ridder Newspapers/Anchorage Daily News, August 9, 2002


“The disc marks the recital debut of the thrilling young Alaskan mezzo Vivica Genaux, joined by conductor René Jacobs and the Akademie fur Alte Musik in a collection of dazzling arias composed for the titular Italian castrato.”
Steve Smith, Billboard, September 21, 2002


“Throughout this recital, Vivica Genaux sings Farinelli’s virtuoso music with admirable confidence and ease.  The rapid-fire scales, intervals, and trills are negotiated with extraordinary accuracy.  The legato in cantilena passages is exemplary, enhanced by the singer’s attractive tone and varied palette of dynamics and vocal colors.  And as with any outstanding singer, Ms. Genaux uses her technical mastery not for mere display, but as the means for singing of expressiveness and dramatic intensity.
Take, for example, the aria ‘Qual guerriero in campo armato’ from Idaspe, written by Farinelli’s brother, Riccardo Broschi.  Vivica Genaux tosses off the heroic and brilliant opening portion with breathtaking abandon.  But immediately after these fireworks, the mezzo-soprano scales her voice down almost to a whisper for the reflective ‘B’ section (‘Il timor del dubbio evento’).  This makes the inevitable da capo repeat of the opening doubly effective, as indeed it should be.  This kind of first-rate vocalism and musicianship may be found throughout Arias for Farinelli.  In short, Arias for Farinelli is a first-class production on all levels.  It is certainly one of the finest vocal releases of 2002 and, by year’s end, could very well move to the top of my list.”
Ken Meltzer, classicalcdreview.com, September 11, 2002


“It has long been believed that the music of the castrati was one genre in which the present could not equal the past. Genaux shows that this repertoire can be mastered, and suggests that it is time for deeper exploration of baroque opera, the last largely unfamiliar segment of classical music. She is still very young, but already she sounds like a peer of the greatest artists featured in The Art of Singing.
Joe McLellan, RedLudwig.com, September 6, 2002


“Genaux commands the huge range these fiendishly testing pieces demand plus the musical finesse to make them attractive and moving.  Genaux suggests gender ambiguity in her tone without resorting to the galumphing butch mannerisms some rival mezzos affect.  Her best notes are enjoyably dark and full and she tosses off the jawbreaking coloratura with staggering ease.”
David Shengold, Time Out New York, September 6, 2002


“Farinelli possessed astounding technique, legendary tonal beauty, and was an unsurpassed master of embellishment.  Come to think of it, that also describes Genaux's singing on this recording.  Her voice is cocoa dark with a wonderful, full bottom and a nice ping on top.  She's also very well suited to the repertoire, some of which is rather obscure.  There are heaps of stunning singing here.  Her breathless cantabile line in ‘Ombra fedele anch’io,’ written by Farinelli's brother, Riccardo Broschi is textbook perfect.  Genaux is equally impressive in the more extroverted music, like Geminiano Giacomelli's ‘Quell'usignolo,’ dipping into her bag of ornamentation to spin off rollercoaster roulades and a whiplash-inducing trill.  Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, the accompanying ensemble, provide vibrant support throughout...”
Craig Zeichner, Early Music America, Fall 2002


“Farinelli was the stage name for the greatest castrato--and arguably the greatest singer — of his era, the 1720s and ‘30s (he inspired the film of the same name).  His range was enormous — three octaves, by some reports — with a deep, resonant chest voice that was perfectly wedded to strong, sweet high notes.  His breath control seemed superhuman, his ability to execute florid runs at high speeds astounded the audience, and he could leap from one octave to another as naturally and easily as most people could speak.  On this CD, the fine countertenor-conductor-musicologist René Jacobs leads a historically correct band in eight (almost forgotten) virtuoso arias Farinelli was famous for, and the Alaskan mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux sings them stupendously.  Her voice is warm and rich, and her ability to keep rhythmically and tonally accurate while carrying out almost impossible, dozens-of-notes-per-minute roulades will take your breath away.  She's just as impressive in the gentler, long-breathed arias.  If you've ever admired Marilyn Horne, Cecilia Bartoli, Joan Sutherland, and other bel canto superstars, this disc is perfect for you.  Thrilling!”

Robert Levine, amazon.com, September 2002

 

 

CD OF THE MONTH – September 2002:
HIGHEST RATING – 10 ARTISTIC QUALITY / 10 SOUND QUALITY:
“You may remember that movie a few years back about the legendary castrato Farinelli. The voice used in the film was an artificial composite of two real voices, the idea being to make it sound somehow otherworldly, as we might imagine a true castrato would have sounded. But when you have voices around such as the one possessed by Vivica Genaux, all that fussing with digital fakery registers as just so much foolishness. American mezzo-soprano Genaux has a voice and technique that certainly are otherworldly--in the best imaginable sense--but she’s also definitely rooted in flesh-and-blood reality. Get ready, voice fans--this is an amazing CD, and these performances set the standard by which all future interpreters of this repertoire will be measured.
You can use all the clichés and vocal technical terms that describe greatness--dazzling, daring, fluid, focused, seamless, fearless, tonal consistency and accuracy of pitch across registers, etc.--and they all apply. Although countertenors have typically claimed the territory represented by these florid and challenging 18th-century arias, Genaux, with her astounding agility, vivid color, and solid, sustained power that underlies every note, ornament, and run from top to bottom, shows why this material actually sits and feels better in the command of a mezzo--admittedly a very special one! Her stamina alone is remarkable as she simply vanquishes one 8- or 10-minute aria after another. Through all the notes--and there probably are more notes per second of music here than on any other vocal disc ever made! -- she maintains interpretive sense and expressive composure.
Sure this music is for show, but it also needs unfailing attention to technique and a believable dramatic foundation. Again, Genaux doesn’t disappoint. Only in the super-human speed of her rendition of Riccardo Broschi’s ‘Qual guerriero in campo armato’ (from Idaspe) do we sense that perhaps a little moderation would have been kinder--not only to Genaux but to us listeners as well (‘Is she going to make it?’). Among the nearly continuous ‘highlights’ are some really lovely singing in Porpora’s Polifemo aria, with exquisitely turned and trilled ornaments, and one section of Hasse’s ‘Or la nube procellosa’ that shows singer and orchestra in stunning, perfectly judged imitative ornamental effects. And what deliciously rich tones Genaux produces in her lower register in the following aria from Hasse’s Artaserse!
René Jacobs is a superb accompanist and his orchestra is a marvel of ensemble precision, gorgeous tone, and when required, scintillating energy to match Genaux’s. The sound couldn’t be better, and the whole irresistible package is completed with thoughtful, informative notes on castrati in general, Farinelli in particular, and on the music and performers. Listeners should note that the final aria--an absolutely jaw-dropping display of vocal artistry -- begins with a recitative that’s not included in the printed texts. What else can I say, except that hearing is believing?”
David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com, July 11, 2002


 

FOUR STARS (Highest Rating):
“No other classical CD in recent months has been met with such excitement and praise as ‘Arias for Farinelli’ – especially since it was recorded by a relatively unknown young singer, Vivica Genaux.  In the past couple of years, the mezzo-soprano from Fairbanks, Alaska, has made quite a name for herself on opera stages in Europe and at the Met in New York, and the splash made by this exciting and intelligent recording should make her known to a much wider audience.
She is at home in both low, luxurious chest voice and on rich, ringing high tones; her sound is never stretched or strained.  She traces the slippery melismas and ornamental trills of the baroque style with unflappable grace...[and] always phrases so the lyrics are energized with conviction and emotion.
This sublime recording will delight connoisseurs and casual music-lovers alike.  It is an impressive coming-out for Genaux, whose star is rising rapidly, and deservedly so.”
Chris Shull, The Wichita Eagle, October 20, 2002

“This clutch of arias was written expressly for the renowned castrato Farinelli by composers who were his contemporaries – leading exponents of opera seria at the time of its fullest bloom, about 1725-1775.  Thus the music is Rococo in style but is not, as one might expect, flimsy, vapid, and simplistic.  Rather, we hear fresh, engaging, often thrilling music, brought vividly to life by Genaux, Jacobs, and friends. Several of these arias have not been previously recorded.  Their text concentrate on amorous or Acadian matters, as would be anticipated in opera seria of the day, and most are in da capo form.
The virtuoso pieces are replete with wide leaps, trills and such, runs of all sorts arpeggios, sudden and extreme changes of register, long held notes, cadenzas, etc. which suggest that Farinelli must indeed have been the vocal equivalent of Paganini. None of this seems to faze the fearless Vivica Genaux in the least, who evidently relishes these challenges. Several sostenuto arias display her expressive capabilities as well.
Her voice is a fairly typical mezzo-soprano, neither a soprano nor an alto in timbre. A low F-sharp to G-sharp, following a plethora of tones up in the soprano range, sounds quite full and very well placed (in 'Qual Guerriero' by Riccardo Broschi, Farinelli's older brother). She handles the vocal acrobatics impressively, sometimes startlingly--a testimony to her admirably supple and disciplined technique.
Balance between soloist and orchestra could not be better. The ensemble plays immaculately; René Jacobs has prepared a veritable Rococo feast for the ears. Galuppi's curious Concerto a 4 in C minor (slow-fast-slow) for orchestra alone proves to be a composition of uncommon interest and expressive content. Recorded sound is superior and annotations include two extensive essays. The second of these, by Jacobs, discusses the many considerations, artistic and otherwise, relevant to the castrato voices of the 18th Century. This unusual deluxe release merits an enthusiastic recommendation.”
David Mulbury, American Record Guide, September/October 2002


 

“This new CD from the brilliant American mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux serves up a dazzling selection of party pieces associated with the celebrated castrato. And she is totally up to the task. The lowish tessitura does not faze Genaux; she shifts gears into chest voice and back again and zings out division after division with a facility and confidence that rivals Marilyn Horne in her absolute prime. Centerpiece of the disc is Riccardo Broschi's aria ‘Qual guerriero in campo armato,’ an eight-minute torrent of saber-rattling, testosterone-spurting fioritura. Goaded on by conductor René Jacob's daunting tempi, Ms. Genaux bares her teeth and tears into those black notes like a tiger.”
James Jorden, GayCity News (New York), July 1, 2002


 

Fanfare Critics’ 2002 WANT LIST:
Joel Kasow:
“In the bel canto domain, three discs were noteworthy, but I have singled out those by Magdalena Kozená and Vivica Genaux over Cecilia Bartoli's disc of Gluck arias, simply because Kozená and Genaux have not yet achieved the name recognition of Bartoli. The selections on Genaux's disc are virtually all new to disc, two of eight previously encountered in performances by Aris Christofellis. There is little doubt that Genaux wins hands down, particularly with such a high-profile collaborator as René Jacobs. Genaux's coppery tone encompasses both the slow laments and the bravura invitations to battle.”
Laura Ronai:
“Vivica Genaux channeled the spirit of Farinelli in an exhilarating disc.”
Fanfare, November/December 2002


 

U.K. Periodicals:

EDITOR’S CHOICE
“This collection of arias associated with him [the castrato Farinelli] is a recreation of his art not by a countertenor, but by a mezzo-soprano, one whose stunning vocal skills surely rival those of the 18th-century master.  While Vivica Genaux has all the virtuosity needed to negotiate the intricately embellished lines in these songs, she knows, too, as did Farinelli, how to use ornamentation for expressive effect.”  “Genaux’s artistry is simply dazzling.”  
Barry Millington, BBC Music Magazine, July 2002


RECORD OF THE WEEK: 
“[Genaux’s] creamy, limpid nicely resonant tone flows smoothly and evenly.  The lower range has an appealing vibrancy but no harshness, and the sound is bright and flexible on top.  Genaux’s coloratura is marvelously fluent.  Her excellent trill helps make for ornamentation that underscores the Affekt of the piece.”
George Loomis, Opera, December 2002


“[Genaux] has an outstanding lyric voice -- rich, warm and flexible throughout its wide-ranging compass...”
Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, May 26, 2002


“...the hair-raising roulades, trills and enormously wide leaps hold no terrors for her.  The performances, directed by René Jacobs, are stylish and expressive, as well as pyrotechnically breathtaking.” 
Elizabeth Roche, The Daily Telegraph, June 1, 2002


“The American mezzo Vivica Genaux is a major star in the making...coupled with Jacobs' stylish accompaniment, Genaux's faultless presentation of this richly ornamented music easily overcomes any risks in the repertoire.”
Andrew Clarke, The Independent, May 17, 2002


“...Obviously no ordinary mezzo-soprano will do. But Vivica Genaux is no ordinary singer. With a background in Rossini, she boasts breathtaking agility, an extraordinarily wide range, and great tonal consistency between chest and head voice. But singing the written notes is only half the battle. Singers of Farinelli’s calibre enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with the composer; at each performance they became co-creators, ornamenting and re-writing the da capos according to their own flights of fancy. But nothing is left to chance here, and Genaux’s extensive ornamentation has all been carefully researched by René Jacobs. The big surprise, though, is that the results are more expressive and less gratuitously titillating than we might expect. Jacobs and Genaux are interested in intensifying the text rather than playing to the gallery. And this makes for deeply satisfying listening, especially as these little known arias by Porpora, Hasse and Broschi are so well written. How close we actually get to the legendary artistry of Farinelli himself is difficult to say, but the dazzling bird-song aria from Giacomelli’s opera Merope brings us within a whisker: the version sung here includes Farinelli’s own fiendish ornamentation (with seven cadenzas, no less!) – a snap shot of what his audiences might have heard on a single night back in 1734.”
Simon Heighes, BBC Radio 3, July 6, 2002


“Genaux sings radiantly with ringing tones in her middle and lower registers, and she embellishes the melody with coloratura flights of fancy which include delicate, perfectly executed trills...excellent diction couched in a completely secure legato and she seasons the repeat sections with refined ornamentation.”   “The ornamentation chosen by René Jacobs for the mezzo is refined but spectacular and its execution is close to perfection.”
Maria Nockin, Music & Vision, October 16, 2002


 

Australian Periodicals:

“As she fearlessly navigates the heights and depths of the profusely ornamented arias written specifically for Farinelli she demonstrates a range, agility and musicianship of exceptional quality. Genaux has an instrument that is often reminiscent of the great Marilyn Horne, with a dark, alluring tone that has great power, especially in the lower register.”
“Make no mistake: this is no disembodied, sexless sound, rather a full-blooded use of a voice that is sure to become much better known.”
Tony Way, May 19, 2002


 

 

French Periodicals:

“This is a disc of pure vocal panache, filled with the most dazzling ornamentation singing has to offer.  One wonders what animal is hiding in that voice and what training was able to produce such technique.”
Jérémie Rousseau, Classica, April 2002

CHOC
“With a voice that has a long range, darkness and agility, this creature of the stage indeed possesses the technical ability to face these bravura pieces, especially as she is teaming up with René Jacobs, whose talent as a conductor is only matched by his knowledge of voices and of the history of singing.”
François Lafon, Le Monde de la Musique, June 2002

TIMBRE DE PLATINE
“On every level, this disc is an enormous success: the portrait of Farinelli is so well created and is so precise that we are thrown into the world of this idol and his epoch before having listened to the entire disc or having read the musical booklet.”
“Musically this disc is impeccable.  Vivica Genaux has a beautiful line that is long, supple and flawlessly executed.  Thanks to all of these qualities, she is able to make use of a great virtuosity in the color of her voice with the various intervals and registers.  Her art gives substance and structure to the coloratura that is no more than mere decoration when attempted by other singers.”
Frank Langlois, Opéra International, June 2002


 

German Periodicals:

WINNER OF THE PRIZE OF THE GERMAN RECORD CRITICS

“Young Alaskan Vivica Genaux has committed herself to the art of her heroes with her voice, as well as her soul.”
Arias for Farinelli is the name of the album dedicated to the famous castrato.  With eight almost shameless, vocally exhibitionist and daring arias, Genaux presents a spectacular plea for the music Nicola Porpora, Johann Adolph Hasse and others, masters of opera seria who should be better-known.”
“Jacobs and Genaux show that the ornamentation in this music is just as expressive as the melody.  With her dark, velvety, yet still robust and boyish timbre, she gives these arias just the emotional range missed in earlier recordings by male altos.”
Jörg Königsdorf, Der Tagesspiegel, May 24, 2002

“With her new recording, ‘Arias for Farinelli,’ Vivica Genaux breaks through the sound barrier into fame.  With a breathtakingly perfect and, at the same time, lively and highly imaginatively sung homage to one of the greats, Genaux delivers a convincingly intelligent, inspiringly creative case for the castrati’s elaborate coloratura roulades that, in less capable hands, can seem like just a soulless display of ornamentation.  Genaux, never faltering in the amazing task she sets before herself, sounds like a young Marilyn Horne.  She attacks her fioriture with ease, effortlessly jumps through appoggiature hoops, and speeds through measures of trills, all done with almost breathless legato resilience.  And yet, despite its showy, amazing technical accomplishments, this CD is, above all, a true artistic treat.”
Manuel Brug, Die Welt, June 13, 2002

“Vivica Genaux has an even-toned, well placed [mezzo-] soprano voice that sits solidly on the breath.  Her coloratura is assured and she elegantly decorates the da capo passages.  Her interpretation, doubtless helped by the knowledgeable René Jacobs, is stylish and immaculate.”
M. Cerenak, Das Opernglas, July/August 2002

 

RECORDING OF THE MONTH:
“With her new CD, Arias for Farinelli on the harmonia mundi label, Vivica Genaux attempts to be the first mezzo-soprano to interpret compositions originally written for the castrato Farinelli with a completely natural voice that can nonetheless resurrect the aura of this legendary artist.  Her unique voice has a sound that very well might suggest the character of a heroic figure.  Yet one is surprised in the opening aria, ‘Dall’amor più sventurato’ from Porpora’s Orfeo,by a serene, charming quality to the voice.  Dario’s ‘Ombra fedele’ from Idaspe of Riccardo Broschi (the castrato’s brother) is filled with inner peace and dignity.  Miss Genaux masters the long arcs with seemingly endless breath.  The da capo, with its very tasteful ornamentation rich in fantasy, is a specimen of baroque vocal virtuosity; the soft and round texture of the voice is as striking here as it is throughout the recording.  ‘Qual guerriero in campo’ (also from Idaspe) follows in stark contrast – an aria di battaglia – which is introduced with extraordinary emotion by the inspiring conducting of René Jacobs leading the Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin and which the singer converts into a performance of vibrating energy.  Breakneck coloratura ornamentation, along with octave jumps full of effect, demand a bold singing art from the interpreter and Vivica Genaux shines here with stupendous ease, wide vocal range and heroic charge.  In ‘Or la nube’ the mezzo-soprano sings with special relish and triumphant vitality, refined appoggiaturas and delightful trills; in ‘Per questo dolce amplesso’ she imbues this poignant aria with simple, yet emotive expression.”
“With this achievement, Vivica Genaux has definitely sung her way to the forefront of singing actresses, a mezzo-soprano prima donna.”
Bernd Hoppe, Orpheus, June 2002

“Apparently, René Jacobs has waited twenty years for this special voice, in order to make this recording.  The music requires impeccable technique.  Suddenly there is someone, Vivica Genaux, who accomplishes all these things with facility, and surpasses every expectation.” “Miss Genaux sings with appealing, breathtaking diction; she expresses herself warmly, and barely seems to breathe: Trills are always placed perfectly and naturally in the phrases, not the trick of a virtuoso, but sung as a true musical ‘Ambassador.’  In Giacomelli's ‘Quell’usignolo,’ she not only soars above the orchestra, but seems to surpass nature in her representation of the nightingale.”
RJB, Süddeutsche Zeitung, May 14, 2002

“There are no recordings of [Farinelli’s] voice.  His life has left a legacy we know well – it is the fodder of vocal acrobats.  It is exactly right for new mezzo star Vivica Genaux.  In ‘Arias for Farinelli,’ this vocal wonder lets sparks fly along masterfully, enchanting us with the wildest of coloratura flights.”
Dagmar Zurek, Financial Times Deutschland, April 30, 2002

“It is worth taking a look at mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux: The singer from Alaska is not only beautiful, she also sings in an entirely touching way.  With her impeccable timbre she vividly brings to life the music of the famed Baroque-era castrato on her CD ‘Arias for Farinelli.’  The American dedicates herself to a field that for a long time was dominated, virtually without competition, by Italy’s diva Cecilia Bartoli.  Those days are now over.  The mezzo sound, so beloved by the public, has a new voice.  Viva Vivica!”
A.U., Focus, June 10, 2002

“The Alaska-born American mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux, beautiful sounding and most aware of baroque stylistics, devotes herself on this CD to Farinelli’s repertoire.  A rare program of arias by Porpora, Hasse, Broschi and Giacomelli, this is an encounter with late-baroque virtuosity in all its glory.”
Michael Stenger, Westdeutsche Allgemeine, June 6, 2002

 

“’Farinelli the Castrato Live!’ – So wrote the Neue Zürcher Zeitung in January of this year after a concert given by the young American mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux in the Concert Hall.  Now, with this Farinelli recording, we have opportunity for reiterating this and further hymns of praise on Miss Genaux.”
A.U., Klassik, May 19, 2002

****(4-Stars) Interpretation / ****(4 Stars) Sound
“Both spectacular and artistically first-rate: Vivica Genaux’s Arias for Farinelli, is causing a furor among more than just the Baroque scene insiders.”  “In order to get a concrete idea of the extremely high degree of artistry of this bel canto virtuosa, listen to the third and last tracks of this CD.  She displays an agility that goes beyond typical notions of virtuosity.”  “You must experience the way Vivica Genaux sings this music: it’s a vocal roller coaster ride that takes your breath away.  But, (and this is what is so significant about this artist), in all the speed of the tempos, with all the virtuosity of the pyrotechnics, it is not the interpreter we see before us, but rather always the character being portrayed.”
A.U., Fono Forum, June 2002

“For centuries Farinelli’s arias were virtually forgotten, until the young American mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux, together with conductor René Jacobs, dared to breathe new life into this repertoire.”   “The CD released last year by harmonia mundi, recently won the Prize of the German Recording Industry (Deutsche Schallplatenkritik).”
Dieter Kranz, NDR Kultur, aired February 7, 2003

“Baroque specialist and conductor René Jacobs considers Genaux, along with Cecilia Bartoli, among the five best mezzo-sopranos in the world today.”
Reinhold Reiterer, Kleine Zeitung (Wien), March 8, 2003