At the end of this magical recording you will envy the reviewer who saw the performance live six times. Though it's perfectly possible to derive considerable pleasure from an audio recording, the piece needs to be seen on stage. Seeing it there in Denmark must have been quite some experience. Like Handel's other comedies Agrippina and Serse, Partenope really works in the theatre. Arguably this is an even greater masterpiece, and this important recording should go some way towards establishing its reputation. As in the stunning Copenhagen performance of Giulio Cesare, this performance is driven with a great sense of passionate commitment by the conductor, Lars Ulrik Mortensen. All the singing is first rate, though the part of Rosmira seems to lie slightly too low for Tuva Semmingsen - but if you have such a superb Baroque actress/singer in your company you'd have to use her somewhere.
There are one or two musical surprises. It's hard to know why Partenope's wonderful aria 'Io ti levo l'impero dell'armi' had to be so mercilessly cut. On the other hand, the addition of the duet at the end of Act 3 (written for another opera altogether) is almost a masterstroke. It's one of those 10 minute vocal pieces like 'Scherza infida' from Ariodante that you never want to end. It's just about perfect - though unfortunately it is sung by the wrong pair of lovers. By this time we really want to see the quarrelling Rosmira and Arsace finally together again.
The volume of the singing can vary as the singers move around the stage, though in general the recording quality is good. The stylish production by Francisco Negrin gives the music space to breathe, and brings out the elements of comedy to great effect.