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Antonio Mazzoni’s Antigono apparently vanished from history three days before its premiere, when the great earthquake of 1755 destroyed Lisbon’s Ópera do Tejo theatre. Mazzoni and his all-star cast, which included the castrati Caffarelli and Guadagni, survived, but the opera was presumed lost until recently, when researchers turned up parts in Ajuda and Rio de Janeiro. Antigono was finally performed in Lisbon in 2011, after a delay of 256 years; this recording of the event marks the opera’s world premiere, both on disc and on stage.

It may not be the lost masterpiece some have claimed, but Antigono is a very accomplished and enjoyable example of late baroque opera seria. Mazzoni’s rich scoring included parts for trumpets, horns, flutes and recorders, while the lengthy arias were tailored to show offhis cast’s astonishing vocal skills. The 2011 singers rise to the challenge with bravura performances. Pamela Lucciarini (in the Caffarelli part) is especially thrilling in Act 1’s spectacular finale, ‘Contro il destin’; and tenor Michael Spyres copes admirably with the title role’s extraordinary range, which stretches from bass to falsetto. Yet the few truly affecting moments, such as the distraught lovers’ duet, ‘Non temer/ Per pietà’, made me wish Mazzoni had cut back on the vocal fireworks and included more of this lilting, Pergolesian beauty.

Graham Lock Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing