Handel Imeneo Fabio Biondi Europa GalanteGeorg Friedrich Handel

CAST: Imeneo: Magnus Staveland, Tirinto: Ann Hallenberg, Rosmene: Monica Piccinini, Argenio: Fabrizio Beggi, Clomiri: Cristina Arcari

Europa Galante
violin & direction, Fabio Biondi

Glossa, 2016

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Imeneo is a wedding opera in three acts composed by Georg Friedrich Handel and performed of the first time in London in 1740. It has been suggested that Handel wrote Imeneo on the occasion of a princess’s wedding, but no further relation with the event exists. Charles Jennens, the librettist of Saul and Messiah, gave a contemptuous judgement of the «operetta of Hymen, in my opinion the worst of all Handel’s compositions, yet half the songs are good».

This recording of one of Handel’s most neglected operas features many good singers and an excellent direction of a specialist of the Baroque repertoire, Fabio Biondi, who leads the orchestra Europa Galante. Biondi conducts with great artistry and precision, giving the opera a brilliant and nice accompaniment, where all the feelings and emotions alternate in a natural and engaging way.

The best of all the singers (and, I have to confess, the one who attired my attention to this Imeneo) is Ann Hallenberg, of whom I have already reviewed her solo album devoted to Maria Marcolini. Hallenberg sings here the role of Tirinto and stands out for her pure and warm voice, her incredible breath control, elegant phrasing and excellent diction. She expresses a huge variety of feelings, of which I remember only two: in her first aria, she pronunces: «se potessero i miei sospiri» as if she was really sighing, while in the aria of the second act, Chi scherza colle rose, she is light-hearted and humorous.

Monica Piccinini as Rosmene is far less impressing and it seems that her voice is very thin (I could define it a “Cherubino’s voice”, considering also her extremely light timbre) and not particularly rich. Nonetheless, she is a good singer and shows a good technical control, even if sometimes her agilities are a little too nervous, as if she was fearing something.

Bass Fabrizio Beggi as Argerio has a sonorous and elegant voice, but I preferred him in the aria of Act II (Su l’arena) rather than in his first aria (Di cieca notte allor), where sometimes he is a little too cold.

I do not like very much the tenor and title role Magnus Staveland and I found that his voice is not always pleasant. For the major part of the time, he sings the notes, but lacks any grace and sometimes is not even impeccable.

Even with some flaws, anyway, this Imeneo is a nice listening.

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