Spain Vivaldi, Juditha triumphans (concert version): Le Concert des Nations, La Capella Reial de Catalunya / Jordi Savall (conductor), L’Auditori, Barcelona, 17.10.2018. (JMI)
Juditha – Marianne Beate Kielland
Holofernes – Marina de Liso
Vagaus – Rachel Redmond
Abra – Lucía Martín-Cartón
Ozias – Kristin Mulders
Juditha triumphans, the only complete oratorio by Antonio Vivaldi that is known to have survived, premiered in 1716 in the Ospedale della Pietà where Vivaldi was music director. It is an allegorical commemoration of the victory of the Republic of Venice over the Turks that led to the signing of a 1716 peace agreement; the fact that in this orphanage there were only females explains why all five characters are sung by women.
The work is not performed frequently, but neither is it a rarity. It was, for example, done two years ago in Ferrara and the previous year had been performed at La Fenice in Venice. Now it has arrived in Barcelona in this concert version conducted by Jordi Savall, on a European tour that had earlier stops in Beaune as well as at the Philharmonie in Paris.
Undoubtedly, the credit for offering this little-known Vivaldi work is due to Jordi Savall, who led a very complete version of the oratory, conducted with care. He even included a symphony that had not been announced in the program and lasted about ten minutes: it gave concertmaster Manfredo Kraemer and the orchestra an opportunity to shine. Savall’s Le Concert des Nations was impressive and, in the choral part, the Capella Reial de Catalunya, composed of 12 women, was brilliant.
The solo parts were performed by two sopranos and three mezzo-sopranos. They all showed great musicality and good taste, although in a few cases the size of their voices was somewhat reduced.
The best of the soloists were mezzo-soprano Marianne Beate Kielland in the part of Juditha and soprano Rachel Redmond as Vagaus. A good impression was also left by the young soprano Lucía Martín-Cartón as Abra, Juditha’s maid, and mezzo-soprano Marina de Liso as Holofernes. Finally, mezzo-soprano Kristin Mulders’s strong voice gave life to Ozias in the second part of the work.
The Auditori was about 70% full, and the audience gave a warm reception to the artists in the final bows.
José M. Irurzun