Later this month the Paris Opera opens it new season with an extreme rarity: Cavalli’s Eliogabalo which due to its controversial subject matter was never performed in the composer’s lifetime. “Trove Thursday” instead presents an equally rare Cavalli opera, Il Xerse, from 1665, featuring the lovely Swedish mezzo Kristina Hammarström in the title role. 

The libretto for Cavalli’s Xerse was first adapted for Bononcini then for Handel, one of his greatest comic masterpieces and containing the classic “Ombra mai fu” which appears too at the beginning of Cavalli’s opera.

The Yale Baroque Opera Project has done a number of major revivals of 17th century Venetian works and this year’s production was Xerse which John Yohalem reviewed for this site.

The Paris production of Eliogabalo features two of today’s leading countertenors, Franco Fagioli and Valer Sabadus, in addition to Paul Groves and Nadine Sierra. The Argentinian conductor Leonardo Garcia Alarcòn will be leading his own orchestra Cappella Mediterranea while his wife Mariana Flores sings Anicia Eritea. Alarcòn et. al. were responsible for a recent well-received Cavalli revival, Elena, done at the Aix-en-Provence Festival.

A sumptuous broadcast of a 2004 Brussels revival of Eliogabalo conducted by René Jacobs is available on YouTube:

Cavalli: Xerse
Theatre des Champs-Elysees, Paris
September 29, 2009

Isabelle Philippe — Romilda
Magali Leger — Adelanta
Anna Maria Panzarella — Amastris
Kristina Hammarström — Xerse
Guillemette Laurens — Arsamene
Isabelle Druet — Eumene
Eugenie Warnier — Clito
Jean-Paul Fouchecourt — Ariodate
Arnaud Marzorati — Ariston
Jean-François Lombard — Elviro

Ensemble Les Paladins
Jérôme Corréas – conductor

“Trove Thursday” offerings can be downloaded via the audio-player available above. Just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

In addition, Xerse and all previous fare remain available from iTunes or via any RSS reader.