Catherine Bott continues the Early Music Show's series of opera profiles by delving into the music and history surrounding Vivaldi's "Orlando Furioso". Based on the epic poem by Ariosto, the libretto by Grazio Braccioli provided Vivaldi with some very intense dramatic opportunities, including star-crossed lovers, dark magic and ultimate madness.
Nowadays, Vivaldi is not remembered for his contributions to the stage, but he once claimed to have written 94 operas! Evidence has only been found of 20 of those, and much of the music was recycled endlessly from one production to another, but Orlando Furioso was arguably his most popular opera, and has been revived a number of times in recent years. The most celebrated recording, arguably, is the one made in 1978 by I Solisti Veneti with Marilyn Horne in the title role and Victoria de los Angeles as the sorceress Alcina. Today's programme focuses mainly on a more recent recording by Jean-Christophe Spinosi's Ensemble Matheus, which featured Philippe Jaroussky as Ruggiero. Jaroussky is preparing to play that role on stage in Paris in 2011, and speaks very enthusiastically about the opera, and about Vivaldi's much-neglected music for the stage.