Agrippina CD review – Ann Hallenberg unearths 12 showstopping arias

Ann Hallenberg/Il Pomo d’Oro/Riccardo Minasi
(Deutsche Harmonia Mundi)

We already know Agrippina, the anti-heroine of Handel’s opera of the same name – Nero’s mother and the target of about as many assassination plots as Fidel Castro before she was eventually murdered, on the orders of her son. But there are two other Agrippinas, her mother and her aunt, with stories only slightly less salacious. All three featured in 17th- and 18th-century operas, most of them forgotten; but mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg has made it her task to unearth them. The 12 arias recorded here for the first time, include several showstoppers: singers will be queueing up to include Mi Paventi from Graun’s Britannico in their recitals, and there’s an equally dazzling vengeance aria by Orlandini, in which Riccardo Minasi’s orchestra, Il Pomo d’Oro, really lets fly. Hallenberg is as convincing in these as she is in the more reflective numbers, and her three arias from Handel’s opera are very classily done, too.


Erica Jeal

The GuardianTramp

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