John Beard, Francesco Borosini, Annibale Fabri: these three men helped to revolutionized music in the 18th century. Their voices moved the greatest composers of the time to increasingly write for tenors, a move from the Castrati, which had dominated opera since 1600. Now, three centuries since this trio's brilliance encouraged a surge of new repertoire for the vocal range, world renowned tenor Ian Bostridge celebrates their legacy with his stunning new release, Three Baroque Tenors
This recording features works by the masters of the age, including six world premier recordings of arias by Caldara, Conti, Gasparini, Handel, Scarlatti and Vivaldi. The previously unrecorded Handel aria is "Scorta siate a passi miei", from the "Borosini" edition of his famous opera Giulio Cesare. In this version, Borosini sang the role of Sesto, which was traditionally performed by a castrato with different arias. Much of the repertoire selected by Bostridge has rarely been performed in modern times.
Three Baroque Tenors is an overdue homage to this neglected musical evolution and the men who inspired it. It illustrates both Bostridge's gift for interpreting repertoire from this period, as previously heard on his Great Handel recording, and his skills as a historian.
Annibale Fabri (b. Bologna, 1697; d. Lisbon, 12th August, 1760) was one of the leading singers of his time and did much to increase the status of the tenor voice. Handel engaged him for two seasons in London between 1729 and 1731; the parts of Emilio in Partenope and Alexander in Poro (the latter performed on this recording) were written for him. He also sang in several of Handel's other Italian operas. The parts Handel composed for him are incredibly virtuosic with a range of nearly two octaves, requiring great agility and technique. As well as Handel's operas, Fabri had considerable success performing roles by other popular composers of the time, including Hasse, Porpora, Caldara, Scarlatti and Gasparini, work from the latter two composers is explored here.
Francesco Borosini (b Modena, c1690; d after 1747) came from a family of well known singers. He was engaged at the Imperial court in Vienna from 1712 until 1731, during which time in sang in several oratorios by Caldara and several operas by Fux and Conti, including the Conti aria on this release. Borosini was the first great Italian tenor to sing in London, making his London debut as Bajazet in Handel's Tamerlano, also explored here. He collaborated with Handel on the role, and the part was rewritten for him before the first performance. Handel also rewrote the role of Sesto in Giulio Cesare for Borosini with new music, as this role was originally written for soprano.
John Beard (b c1717; d Hampton, 5th February 1791) was Handel's main star singer when the fashion turned from staged opera to un-staged oratorio in mid-18th-century London. The Messiah, Samson and other key works were premiered by John Beard and he was the most frequently featured singer in Handel's output throughout the composer's career. As well as Handel, he inspired works by composers Thomas Arne, JC Smith and William Boyce who were all close friends of the celebrated tenor. It is these works, and the rarely performed or recorded 1745 "musical drama" Hercules by Handel, which are explored here.