"Caros audiophiles, this week I offer another experience from the classical Proms season in London. Two days ago had been a long tiring irritating day. During the evening I became distracted and completely forgot that I should be meeting a friend for a late-night concert. I remembered, too late I thought, twenty minutes after it started. I looked out of the window. It was raining furiously like cats and dogs. Like London. Not a night to be outside.
But then I decided that the day would not defeat me. I jumped into my car, luckily found a parking space outside the theatre, ran inside, ignoring the attendant who said I could not enter the auditorium because there was no interval, found my seat and my friend just as the orchestra was finishing tuning their instruments for the next piece of the programme. I had missed half of the concert, had no idea who or what I was coming to hear. But, let me tell you, I became so glad that I made the effort to arrive!
The first musical piece was so serene, so beautiful, that I was immediately transported to a better place, a better disposition. Later I discovered that the composer was Nicola Porpora, a relatively unknown contemporary and rival of Handel and better regarded as the teacher of the famous castrata singer Farinelli. The music was an aria, Alto Giove, from his opera Polifemo. The wonderful counter-tenor singer was Philippe Jaroussky. The musicians were a young Baroque orchestra Ensemble Matheus, led by an exuberant charismatic conductor Jean-Christophe Spinosi (who looked like Sean Penn with a sense of humour).
Porpora - "Alto Giove":
So, now I was relaxed. And then the fun began. Jaroussky was joined on stage by a contralto singer Marie-Nicole Lemieux. A large vivacious sensual woman with flaming red hair and turquoise ballgown dress. I say joined, actually she literally ran onto the stage, almost pushing him and the conductor out of the way in her enthusiasm. This was a fun performance of the aria played as if by two competing singers instead of two competing lovers. A joyous victorious finale to my day!
Vivaldi - Orlando Furioso "Nel Profundo Cieco Mondo" (In This Profoundly Blind World)