“Juditha Triumphans Holofernes Barbariae” is the only surviving Vivaldi Oratorio. Moyses Deus Pharaonis, L’ adorazione dei tre Magi, La vittoria navale predetta dal S Pontefice Pio V Ghisilieri, are the missing oratorios of Vivaldi. The work was composed on the event of a naval triumph of the Republic of Venice against the Turks who occupied the island of Corfu, on August 18th 1716.
Already in its 6th year the Kallithea Mediterranean Festival, bravely decided in these dire times to put up a performance of this delightful Oratorio in an open air courtyard. The main role was sung by the Greek contralto Marita Paparizou, who is the Artistic Director of the Festival. Her innate musicianship, her great experience with the demands of Baroque music, carried the day. She sang with great feeling and with bravado the difficult and demanding role of Judith, Especially impressive in her deep as well as high notes, she managed to give the full color spectrum of Judith’s moods, love, hate, revenge, escalating those feelings at her final scene of the decapitation of Holofernes. If only the unrelenting wind didn’t interfere with her singing, especially in the more lyrical arias, clogging the microphones, but even then Judith came out triumphant.
Margarita Syggeniotou took over the role of Holofernes. In her arias she portrayed the amorous feelings of the General with sensuality and great finesse in her singing. Her intonation as well as her elocution in the recitatives, as if she speaks Latin everyday, was impressive.
Rosa Poulimenou made a welcome come back to the Festival singing the role of Abra. Her voice secure, forceful and well rounded was the perfect choice for the role. She has a great innate feeling for this kind of music, and her impeccable musicianship was apparent in her singing.
Maria Katsoura took on bravely the role of Ozias, a very taxing role, but her technique and strong voice carried the flag. I enjoyed her arias since her voice brought a brilliance and force to the part.
Ozias is really written for a contralto but this did not deter her from bravely taking over the part, and very cleverly she darkened her voice to give the full sound spectrum of the music.
Coming the Vagaus of Maria Mansola, an accomplished coloratura singer, who was pure delight , and was rightfully rewarded by the audience after her demanding aria “Armate face et anguibus” was pure perfection. Her performance was a true delight, what an singer…
The Orchestre du Soleil was conducted by Maestro Maurizio Colassanti. His performance was a model one , being after all an experienced Conductor of Baroque Music. He tackled the score with great bravado revealing the full spectrum of Vivaldi’s score. Especially impressive was the overture (the original piece is lost) with the ringing trumpets and tympani introducing the Chorus of girls “Filii Notas” under the direction of Maria Bazou. M.Colassanti presented an impressive performance giving breath to the music, making therefore the audience to sit through the concert with an undivided attention , an audience that after all was not familiar with baroque music. Unfortunately open air venues are not sympathetic to baroque instruments , since they are very sensitive to humidity.
Frixos Mortzos took over the cembalo and organ parts and the theorb was played by Effi Minakouli a most experienced performer of the instrument.
Since there was not a printed program with translations of the libretto, George Ahladiotis and Frezi Mahaira took over the role of narrators, in fact a very clever solution to the problem that gave the opportunity to the audience to follow the story.
All things considered, it was a very enjoyable evening, the music of Vivaldi worked its magic since all performers came together and sung and played their hearts out with great enthusiasm, an element that is crucial to bring out the music of Vivaldi. Juditha triumphed over the Winds and War.