Viva! Vivica + Vivaldi
QPAC, Concert Hall
Vivica Genaux is a mezzo-soprano of remarkable technique and international fame, and for Brisbane Baroque Festival to secure her as the vocal headline to star in a single show as part of their 2016 program provides Brisbane audience with a rare treat, evidenced from the moment she opens her mouth to share her unique sound.
The one-off “Viva! Vivica + Vivaldi” gala concern sees the American performing, in her first Australian concert appearance that features some of Vivaldi’s most exuberant operas and a selection from his lesser known set of 12 violin concerti known as “La Stravaganza”, full of abstract ideas and fantastical experimentation from the composer’s final years. As such, she takes the audience on quite the journey from an energetic and animated ‘Agitata Da Due Venti’ from “Griselda Rv 718, 1735” to a serenely beautiful ‘Mentre Dormi Amor Fomenti’ from “L’Olimpiade Rv725, 1734” and back again to ‘Alma Oppressa’ from “La Fida Ninfa Rv714, 1732”.
Vivaldi means strings and they are showcased from the very first “La Stravaganza” number, ‘Concerto in B Flat’ from the local Camerata of St John’s 18-piece chamber orchestra. The group, a hit at the inaugural festival last year, are as vibrant as they are accomplished, particularly in Act Two’s more dramatic numbers. And with theorbo and harpsichord in complement to their strong strings, fronted by Brendan Joyce as lead violinist, their sounds are authentically baroque.
Genaux’s vocals are second to none; she sings with vitality and consistent brilliance in her masterful control of rhythmic tension, showcasing perfect phrasing and impressive vocal dexterity that has to be heard to be believed. She is also a generous and genuine performer with an endearing personality and it is only appropriate that after two encores (because the show shouldn’t end of a sad number), that appreciative audience members are leaping to their feet in standing ovation.
“Viva! Vivica + Vivaldi” is an exciting, energetic showcase of vocal and orchestra skill that not only confirms the calibre of the festival performers, but represents the excellence of its eight day program.