Franco Fagioli’s performances of Handel take us on a sensual journey of discovery
Countertenor Franco Fagioli’s latest recital disc for Deutsche Grammophon, Handel Arias, is scheduled for international release on 12 January 2018. Recorded with specialist period-instrument ensemble Il pomo d’oro, the album features Fagioli’s personal selection of twelve favourite arias from Handel’s rich and colourful operatic world, including excerpts from Serse, Rinaldo and Ariodante. Fagioli and Il pomo d’oro will be performing this repertoire on tour at venues in France, Germany, Belgium and Spain in January and March 2018.
Argentinian countertenor Franco Fagioli is a real stage animal, harnessing his tremendous ability to express emotion as well as his vocal virtuosity to bring the characters he plays to life. He is in his element in Handel’s colourful Baroque operas, able to deploy every aspect of his monumental talent to the utmost.
For his new album, Handel Arias, set for international release on 12 January 2018, Fagioli has mined the riches of the composer’s works to assemble twelve of his favourite arias. These are pieces that reflect many of the defining moments of his career, he explains – music that gives him the “tingle factor”. “When I was recording, it was as if I was taking snapshots of moments I wanted to capture for ever”, he says. “In choosing the arias, my only criterion was this: which pieces move me the most when I sing them?” The result is a stunning – and very personal – selection, revealing Fagioli’s deep veneration for this great Baroque composer. “Handel’s operas are a must for any countertenor”, he observes. “His inimitable style captivated both singers and audiences. You could say he was the Broadway star of the Baroque.”
Alongside highlights such as “Ombra mai fu” from Serse or the bravura aria “Venti turbini” from Rinaldo, Fagioli has also chosen miniature gems such as the radiant, ethereal “Ch’io parta?” from Partenope, or “Dopo notte” from Ariodante, which basks in a golden light. Regardless of the popularity of the arias, he has arrived at his own individual interpretations, all shot through with his deep understanding of Handel and his times and an inspirational awareness of his own strengths. Fagioli was determined that the recordings should convey the emotional development of the various roles, even without the context of the complete opera, and he succeeds so well in this that we hear even the most famous arias with fresh ears and are alive to all the “affetti virtuosi” of the music.
Franco Fagioli has found the perfect partners for his foray into Handel’s soundworlds in the musicians of Italian Baroque ensemble Il pomo d’oro. Since it was formed in 2012, the orchestra has been exploring the subtleties of historical performance practice, and in their recordings with Fagioli its players let all the nuances of the scores shine through, showing the extraordinary, weightless beauty of his voice, with its three-octave range, to full advantage from start to finish. Fagioli’s enthusiasm for Handel’s music is so infectious it spreads instantly to the listener. The splendours of the Baroque radiate from his recordings, marking him out as one of the most exciting performers of our time.