Demetrio (1740): Johann Adolph Hasse

Ray Chenez

★★★

(Opera Settecento at Cadogan Hall, 21 September 2016)

Another long-overdue post finally surfaces from the drafts folder! This time it’s Hasse’s Demetrio, to which I’d been eagerly looking forward. We don’t hear much Hasse in London and Opera Settecento had managed to gather a truly exceptional cast, featuring many of the singers I enthuse about repeatedly on this blog. Erica Eloff, Rupert Charlesworth and Michael Taylor were joined in a casting coup by Ray Chenez, whom I last saw as a manipulative and ultimately tragic Marzia at Versailles. On paper, it couldn’t fail. On the night, however, unsympathetic cutting of the opera resulted in a fragmentary show, which I felt didn’t do justice either to its splendid cast or to Hasse himself.

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Adriano in Siria (1734): Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

Pergolesi: Adriano

★★★★

(Opera Settecento at Cadogan Hall, 16 September 2015)

It’s no exaggeration to say that I’d been looking forward to this Adriano in Siria since the curtain fell on the last one. It’s the first full opera I’ve heard by the precociously gifted Pergolesi, who died at the age of only 26, and who is best known here in England for his haunting Stabat Mater. However, I suspect I’ll get to know Adriano itself pretty well by the end of the year. The production company Parnassus will soon* be releasing their own new recording of the opera, featuring a rather formidable cast, and Opera Settecento’s concert performance was perfectly timed to whet appetites and throw down the gauntlet.

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Antigono (1756): Christoph Willibald Gluck

Metastasio: Antigono

★★★

(Ensemble Serse, Grosvenor Chapel, London, 25 April 2015)

I know what you’re thinking. Serse again?! But no: fear not. No Xerxes today: instead I’m rather belatedly posting about Ensemble Serse, a London-based company of young musicians and singers who specialise in ambitious resurrections of Baroque opera. Their mission statement is to offer a musical experience that’s as close as possible to what an 18th-century audience might have heard. That means no cuts, all possible cadenzas and a take-no-prisoners attitude to singing.

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