Joyous Verónica Cangemi at Teatro Colón

 ArgentinaArgentina Handel, Vivaldi, Telemann: Verónica Cangemi, Jean-Christophe Spinosi (conductor), Orquesta Barroca Argentina, Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. 22.11.2011. (JSJ)
Verónica Cangemi at a Teatro Colón recital. (Photo Teatro Colón)

In a rare appearance in her home country, Argentine soprano Verónica Cangemi’s five city recital tour was an opportunity for local audiences to see and hear in the flesh why she is one of the country’s leading singers internationally and in Europe in particular.

And her appearance at the Teatro Colón, bringing its 2011 Abono Bicentenario series to its end, was very much the centrepiece – and saying it was 20 years since her debut there, it was an occasion of great joy to be back, Ms Cangemi commented, introducing what was to be a heartfelt performance of Amadigi’s ”Sento la Gioia” from Handel’s Amadigi di Gaula.

Accompanying Cangemi was the Orquesta Barroca Argentina, an ad hoc baroque orchestra that she has formed with talented young Argentines, some local, most with orchestras in Europe, under the baton of long time collaborator Jean-Christophe Spinosi.

The evening was devoted to Handel, Vivaldi and Telemann, the first two being among the composers with which Cangemi has made her name, both on the stage and in the recording studio. The first part was devoted exclusively, excepting the aforementioned Amadigi aria, to extracts from Serse, and started with a stylish rendition of the overture.

Ms Cangemi opened with Serse’s recitative “Frondi tenere e belle” leading into a plangent “Ombra mai Fù”. This was followed with a change of mood with Atalanta’s playful “Un cenno leggiadretto,” and then again, after the Act III symphony, with Romilda’s aria “Nè men con l’ombre d’infidelita.”

For many Cangemi is probably best known as an exponent of Vivaldi, due to her several recordings, and this made up the bulk of the second half, starting with Caio’s passionate “Gelosia tu gia” from Ottone in villa. This was followed with Ippolita’s tender “Zeffiretti che sussurrate” from Ercole sul termodonte, in which Spinosi shared the exquisite violin duet with orchestra leader Laurence Paugam.

An orchestral “interlude” followed, with Telemann’s E minor concerto for transverse flute (Jean Marc Goujon) and recorder (Nico Chaves), which gave the orchestra the opportunity to show its capabilities. Again with Spinosi directing from the violin, this was a vigorous and spirited performance, with the Spanish style ending complete with foot tapping.

Ms Cangemi then returned with Cesare’s aria “Se mai senti spirarti sul volto” from Catone in Utica and Ruggiero’s “Sol da te mio dolce amore” from Orlando Furioso, before concluding with her well known “Agitata da due venti” from Griselda. And for the encore – “La mia costanza” from Handel’s Ezio.

All together these showed off Cangemi’s brilliance and virtuosity and coupled with the energy and enthusiasm of Spinosi’s direction, all of music that is infrequently performed here, made for an unforgettable evening. Happily Cangemi’s next appearance won’t be as distant as her last, in a concert version of Handel’s Rinaldo in the Colón’s next season.

Jonathan Spencer Jones