With The Farinelli Manuscript Ann Hallenberg, accompanied by Stefano Aresi and Stile Galante, offers a scintillating reading of the music known to have been sung by the castrato Carlo Broschi during his 23-year stay in Spain (and sent as a present to the Empress Maria Theresa). Described as “a force of nature”, displaying flawless coloratura and a purity of timbre, the Swedish mezzo follows her previous appearance on Glossa with Aresi (a disc devoted to music associated with the later castrato Luigi Marchesi) with a spirited demonstration of the musicality which so attracted Farinelli to listeners at the Spanish court.
Enticed to Madrid at the height of his powers in 1737 Farinelli provided regular concerts for the Spanish queens, Elisabetta Farnese and Maria Barbara de Bragança and their respective husbands, Felipe V and Fernando VI, singing some 8 or 9 arias at these soirées. According to present-day attributions, amongst the compositional hands discernible in the manuscript is the work of musicians active in Madrid: Niccolo Conforto, Giovanni Battista Mele and Farinelli himself. The music of other prominent Italian composers of the time – Giay, Latilla and Giacomelli – also appear in the manuscript.
Hallenberg sings the written-out ornaments and da capos appearing in Farinelli’s manuscript, with Aresi providing others and following the precise instrumentation and ensemble layout as detailed in court archives. Aresi also contributes an essay for the booklet which continues the debunking of historical misinformation surrounding Farinelli’s time in Madrid.