* Notes *
Countertenor Philippe Jaroussky (pictured left, photograph by Simon Fowler) is currently on tour with Orchestra Barocca di Venezia (VBO) and performed yesterday at Sonoma State University's Green Music Center. The program is entitled "A Legendary Battle: Farinelli & Porpora vs. Carestini & Händel" and includes instrumental works by both composers interspersed with eight arias written for castrasti. VBO seems to consist of a harpsichordist, eight violinists, two violists, two cellists, a bassist, a bassoonist, a lute player, two oboists, and two horns. The playing was best when the tempi were meant to be brisk and the volume loud. The quieter, slower Minuetto of Porpora's Overture from Il Germanico was slightly lax. The Largo e piano of Händel's Concerto Grosso in A Minor was unfocused compared to the Allegro movements that proceeded and followed it. Händel's Concerto Grosso in G Major has three Allegro movements, and certainly was the most charming of the instrumental selections.
Jaroussky sounded as sublime as ever. His voice has such an open ease to it. He sang Porpora's "Mira in cielo" from Arianna e Teseo and "Si pietoso il tuo labro" from Semiramide riconsciuta with haunting beauty. The two arias from Händel's Alcina, "Mi lusinga il dolce affeto" and "Stà nell'Ircana pietrosa tana" also came off well. The different colorings of the word "cacciator" in the latter alone were impressive. Likewise, after intermission Jaroussky did splendidly with Händel's "Agitato da fiere tempeste" from Oreste and "Scherza infida" from Ariodante. The concert ended with two arias from Porpora's Polifemo and the encore was Geminiano Giacomelli's "Sposa, non mi conosci."
* Tattling *
The audience members were, for the most part, quiet. No electronic noises were noted. The woman in the third row from the stage, Seat 9, insisted on talking to both her neighbors, one of whom was her daughter. She did stop vocalizing after being hushed twice, but also had the sniffles and may have fallen asleep. She and her daughter did have the good sense to leave after the interval.