[White Shirt reaction gif to Francesca Ascioti singing: aiming for the poise on the left, but actually gaping as on the right. – Roberta Invernizzi (Arbace) and Francesca Ascioti (Marzia) in Vivaldi’s “Catone in Utica”, Amsterdam 2016]
Good people of White Shirt Country, we need to talk more about Francesca Ascioti.
While wiling away the time until tonight’s “Semiramide” liveblog, thadieu pointed me towards some more Hallenberg, in this February’s (a magic time for White Shirt friendly opera programming, it seems) Concertgebouw concert performance of Vivaldi’s “Catone in Utica” with La Cetra/Barockorchester Basel under Andrea Marcon, of which Act II and III are available on YT thanks to NPO Radio 4.
Look at some of the reasons why you will love this:
Annett Fritsch! Roberta Invernizzi! A Lady Theorbo! Ann Hallenberg chewing the scenery
who you calling concert performance screw that! Francesca Ascioti! – Vivaldi’s “Catone in Utica”, Amsterdam 2016]
So, Ascioti. I know we appreciated her in the 2015 “Juditha Triumphans” from Venice, but I feel she fell undeservingly to the wayside of “Dear GOD Iervolino!” that night.
Both in style and color, Ascioti gives me Romina Basso vibes. Sadly, she is another one of those singers of whom there is no schedule to find online. And I really, *really* would like to listen to more of her. Preferably live.
But onto THE GAY (and this is rainbow unicorns puking queer coloratura levels of gay):
If you know about Cato, and Cato vs. Caesar (=white dudes arguing about power, and then arguing some more), this plot does not look imminently White Shirt friendly.
But fear not, it got the Venetian Baroque treatment: Caesar carries on a secret affair with Cato’s daughter Marzia! Marzia has another suitor in swaggering Arbace! Plus Pompeius’ widow Emilia is running around plotting bloody murder!
Sounds like a lot more fun already, doesn’t it?
And now take a look at the casting, and the casting in this particular case: Roberta Invernizzi as Arbace. Francesca Ascioti as Marcia.
[Not my reaction if ending up on the receiving side of vocal advances by any character sung by Invernizzi. That Louise Brooks Pandora haircut gets extra white shirt points. Also: shoulders. – Roberta Invernizzi (
Countess Arbace) and Francesca Ascioti (Marzia) in Vivaldi’s “Catone in Utica”, Amsterdam 2016.]
So, the plot. In the first libretto version, these two end up together. Yay. In the – currently more popular – second version, they don’t. (call me, Arbace!)
Still, you’ve got the tantrum-throwing tenor committing suicide at the end (Gonzalez Toro is fabulous, though), plus a very cultivated Carlos Mena (Fulvio) and a magnificent Ann Hallenberg (Emilia) to focus on.
And, fine, then you’ve got Marzia not ending up with Arbace, but with Julius Caesar.
This is Caesar:
[Oh. All right, then. Baroque Mezzo Problems: Which soprano should I end up marrying? Louise Brooks or Jil Sander? – Annett Fritsch (Cesare) getting the girl in Vivaldi’s “Catone in Utica”, Amsterdam 2016]
Gay, gay Glory Hallelujah (and please let me know if you see Act I somewhere):