[Sticking with trouser roles and swords: not really a literal White Shirt – and it took me more than a handful of clips to realize that this is not, in fact, Juditha, but Holofernes, but I am not complaining about the wardrobe choices -, but if you thought Latin Baroque oratorio couldn’t sizzle, add a contralto and think again. Teresa Iervolino as Holofernes in Vivaldi’s “Juditha Triumphans” as staged by Elena Barbalich, Venice/La Fenice 2015.]
More contraltos on the scene is always a reason for rejoicing – not that Iervolino is that new a name, exactly, but she hasn’t been as present yet as Mingardo or Prina or Galou or the once-upon-a-time-in-Zurich-I-fell-in-love-with-a-certain-Ottone Mijanovic.
This Venetian “Juditha Triumphans” is showcasing Iervolino’s voice nicely (there are various clips on YT, and Mezzo has the whole production on demand). Also, her swagger (and you’ve got to give points to a singer who maintains an FB album of her trouser roles):
Still, what really made me sit up and listen was her Rosmira in Ricardo Minasi’s recent studio recording of Handel’s “Partenope” (featuring Karina Gauvin and Philippe Jaroussky in the leads).
With the Juditha staging, my first thought was “Skirts!” because I thought “Betulia liberata” and contralto and Juditha, because I am not that that familiar with the Vivaldi version. With the “Partenope”, my first thought was “Pants!” because damn if Iervolino doesn’t sound dark and smokey and seductive and powerful and virile there. But to be fair, Rosmira *does* spend most of the opera in pants, so I wasn’t that far off.
And I definitely need to sit down at length with Vivaldi’s “Juditha Triumphans” (and oh, what a lovely coincidence that I already have my ticket for Malena Ernman in early 2017 at Theater an der Wien), which sports not one, but three trouser roles (I remember thadieu being rather taken with Paola Gardina’s Vagaus and her “is that pants, oh, who cares?” outfit in this very Fenice production), and was premiered at an all-girls boarding school starring three contraltos and two sopranos to boot. Clearly, this demands closer White Shirt scrutiny at large.