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1
Monteverdi: L'Orfeo, SV 318, Act 2: "Possente spirto" (Orfeo)
Alessandro Striggio, Claudio Monteverdi, Philippe Jaroussky, Bérengère Sardin, Diego Fasolis, I Barocchisti
08:42
2
Trio Sonata in C Major, Op. 3 No. 8: IV. Allegro
Arcangelo Corelli, Ensemble Aurora, Enrico Gatti
01:30
3
Pallido Il Sole Artaserseair D'Artabano
Aris Christofellis
05:34
4
Diana sull'Elba, S.200: Sonata
Johann David Heinichen, Les Ambassadeurs ~ La Grande Écurie, Jean-François Madeuf, Pierre-Yves Madeuf, Lionel Renoux, Alexis Kossenko
02:56
5
Polifemo, Act II Scene V: Nell'attendere il mio bene
Nicola Porpora, Academia Montis Regalis, Alessandro De Marchi
05:32
6
Concerto for Oboe Solo and Basso Continuo, RV 568: Mouvement lent alternatif in F Major, grave
Antonio Vivaldi, Les Ambassadeurs, Alexis Kossenko
01:55
7
Il Medo: "Sento due fiamme in petto"
Leonardo Vinci, Franco Fagioli, Il Pomo D'oro, Zefira Valova
09:52
8
Inca Waltz - 1999 Digital Remaster
Yma Sumac
03:10
9
"Bella dama di nome Santa": Aria "Dal nome tuo credei" (Andante)
Alessandro Scarlatti, Carlo Vistoli, Le Stagioni, Paolo Zanzu
03:44
10
Nisi Dominus (Psalm 126), RV.608: 4. "Cum dederit" (Andante)
Antonio Vivaldi, James Bowman, Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood
04:09
11
Il pastor fido, HWV 8a - Act 2: "Sento brillar nel sen"
George Frideric Handel, Franco Fagioli, Il Pomo D'oro, Zefira Valova
06:45
12
Stabat mater dolorosa
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Valer Barna-Sabadus, Terry Wey, Neumeyer Consort, Michael Hofstetter
04:33
13
Handel : Belshazzar : Act 1 "Rejoice, my countrymen" "For long ago" "Thus saith the Lord" [Daniel]
George Frideric Handel, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Concentus Musicus Wien
03:07
14
Canticle II: Abraham and Isaac Op. 51
Benjamin Britten, David Daniels/Ian Bostridge/Julius Drake
17:04
15
O Solitude
Henry Purcell, Alfred Deller, Jane Ryan, Robert Elliott
05:54
16
Il Valdemaro, Act III, Scene 10: Aria "Quando onor favella al core"
Domenico Sarro, Xavier Sabata, George Petrou, Armonia Atenea
03:26
17
Si c’est un bien...
Joseph Chabanceau de la Barre, Henri Ledroit, Matthias Spaeter
03:30
18
Caldara: Achille in Sciro: "Se un core annodi"
Antonio Caldara, Philippe Jaroussky, Emmanuelle Haïm, Concerto Köln
01:56
19
At the River
Traditional, Andreas Scholl, Tamar Halperin
02:21
20
Vespasiano: Premera soglio di morte
Attilio Ariosti, Filippo Mineccia, Ensemble Odyssee, Andrea Friggi
05:11
21
Widerstehe doch der Sünde, BWV 54: Widerstehe doch der Sünde, BWV 54: 1. Aria "Widerstehe doch der Sünde"
Johann Sebastian Bach, Andreas Scholl, Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Herreweghe
06:58
22
Dream of the Song: II. The Multiple Troubles of Man
George Benjamin, Peter Cole, Federico García Lorca, Bejun Mehta, Concertgebouworkest, Netherlands Chamber Choir
03:39
23
Lontan dall'idol mio, S. 437
Benedetto Marcello, Filippo Mineccia, RAFFAELE PE, La Venexiana, Claudio Cavina
05:04
24
Radamisto / Act 2: "Ombra cara"
George Frideric Handel, Russell Oberlin, The Baroque Chamber Orchestra, Thomas Dunn, Albert Fuller
08:47
25
Temistocle: "Ch’io parta?"
Johann Christian Bach, Yuri Minienko, Armonia Atenea, George Petrou
05:11
26
Orfeo ed Euridice: Aria Che puro ciel!
Christoph Willibald Gluck, Bejun Mehta, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, René Jacobs
06:06
27
Aria: Venga pur (Mitridate, re di Ponto)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, David Daniels, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Harry Bicket
06:59
28
Il crociato in Egitto: Act II Scene 4: Il di rinascera (Armando)
Giacomo Meyerbeer, Michael Maniaci, Patrizia Ciofi, Marco Vinco, Iorio Zennaro, Silvia Pasini, Fernando Portari, Laura Polverelli, Luca Favaron, Emanuele Pedrini, Teatro la Fenice Chorus, Teatro la Fenice Orchestra, Emmanuel Villaume
02:52
29
Farnace / Act 1: "Ti parli in seno amore"
Josef Mysliveček, Vince Yi, Armonia Atenea, George Petrou
07:47
30
Rossini: Semiramide, Act 2 Scene 4: No. 9c, Aria, "In sì barbara sciagura" (Arsace, Chorus)
Gioachino Rossini, Max Emanuel Cenčić, Michael Hofstetter, Orchestre de Chambre de Genève
09:28

Countertenor

In search of the lost voice of the castrati, the countertenors who bring to life the fifth voice, and the complex and fascinating genre placing voices somewhere between traditional ideas of ‘male’ and ‘female’. Here we reconnect with a repertoire driven by emotion.

In 1979, at the legendary Aix-en-Provence Festival, Porporino was revived, a musical based on the eponymous novel by Dominique Fernandez, which recounts the fate of a Neapolitan castrato. There, James Bowman and Paul Eswood sang with soprano voices. In addition to the emotional impact of the use of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, which was used in the show, I discovered a vocal creature quite new to me and little heard at the time: the countertenor.

This type of singer, through singing in a high register, can breathe life into the idea of the mythical castrati. In recent years their ranks have swelled. After the first generation in the 1960s, notable for Alfred Deller and Russell Oberlin, their spiritual sons Henri Ledroit, René Jacobs, James Bowman and Paul Eswood, brought to the singularity of the tone the seriousness of musicology. Then came Andreas Scholl, Jochen Kowalski, Vince Yi, and Bejun Metha. Today, while Filippo Mineccia, Carlo Vistoli, and Valer Sabadus triumph, a fifth generation of countertenors is emerging. These demonic/angelic voices continue to conquer a very large audience, thanks in particular to Philippe Jaroussky. Like the poet Orpheus sung by Monteverdi, they have brought back from the realm of shadows the exceptional emotional palette of the Baroque repertoire.     

This voice has had its hits, such as the buoyant Pallido il sole, composed for the athleticism and breath-holding qualities of the Farinelli and the Caffarelli of this world. Today an extraordinary countertenor, Franco Fagioli, seems to be their reincarnation. If I have chosen to give him a prominent place within this playlist, it is to give voice to the power, the projection and the phenomenal virtuosity of this Argentinian singer. Fagioli is a bit like the Yma Sumac of Baroque – that famous Peruvian singer with an amazing vocal range from baritone to coloratura. Fagioli recreates what the voices of eighteenth century rock stars might have sounded like.

The castrati were very present in Mozart’s operas, but died out at the beginning of the nineteenth century, though they were courted by Rossini and Meyerbeer for gender-bending roles. Even Wagner dreamt of them, but was never able to hire Domenico Mustafà, one of the last castrati in the Sistine Chapel. The twentieth century, in its search for an impossible past, gave birth to the countertenor, this fifth lyrical voice after sopranos, tenors, baritones, and basses. Today, this male/child voice is all the rage in conservatories and on stages. Festivals have been set up for them and tailor-made works have been written for them, yesterday by Benjamin Britten, today by George Benjamin and Kaija Saariaho. Who knows what tomorrow’s star countertenor will look like? Perhaps someone who breaks down gender and identity barriers on every level, thus paying homage to a past where thousands of children were maimed in order to keep their angelic children’s voices forever caged in an adult body.

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