Renata Pokupić & La Serenissima at Wigmore Hall – L’Amante Abbandonata: Italian Cantatas from the Settecento

“Abandoned heroines are the central figures in this programme by the wide-ranging Croatian mezzo, accompanied by a period-instrument ensemble that specialises in the music of Vivaldi and his contemporaries, including the less familiar Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello and Giovanni Alberto Ristori.” [Wigmore Hall website]

Renata Pokupić (mezzo-soprano)

La Serenissima
Adrian Chandler (violin & director)

Reviewed by: Amanda-Jane Doran

Reviewed: 17 March, 2019
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Renata PokupićPhotograph: C GloagCantatas 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.

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