Lovely, lovely and lovely.
Abel | Hong Kong | 02/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The opera, composed by the teenage Mozart for the Archduke of Austria's wedding to the Princess of Parma, does not have much specific meaning in its libretto.
Even so, it is a very good showcase of opera seria of that era.
The first castrato is of course the protagonist Ascanio, a character that represents the Archduke Ferdinand himself. The prima donna is Venus, the royal mother none other than Empress Maria Theresa herself.
All soloists are impeccable, but the standout is the then young Greek mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa in the title role. Baltsa sang Ascanio as if a royal teenager about to be married - excited yet cautious, charismatic yet polite. The clear boyish tinge disappears in later recordings (like Idamente in Idomeneo with Pavarotti, Popp and Gruberova).
Auger, the famous coloratura of the mid-20th century, sung a coloratura aria with stunning virtuosity that shuns later singers, like Natalie Dessay in Mitridate on Decca. You have to hear to believe it.
Peter Schreier as the Priest is the only 'male' voice. This is a true Mozartian singer after Fritz Wunderlich. Over the years, he had not been fairly rated. It is high time to give this outstanding interpretor his due."