I love Kasarova, I cannot help it. But… sometimes. I mean… *hysteric sob.
I mean, what are we witnessing there? Is this a parody of Ruggiero’s aria?
This growling in the lower range, the belching graces — or whatever this is supposed to depict, before the notes — all the time? And the performance as such…
To not lower myself on youtube-comment level, a tender musical critique here: It is THE aria di bravura for Ruggiero. Ruggiero is the gentle hearted fiancé of Bradamante, his warrior spouse — she has the ballz, so to speak. This aria is necessary to shape Ruggiero’s persona, and not reduce him to a complete wimp amidst all this “Verdi prati” etc. It is one of the most awesome arias a castrato could hope to sing at the time. I bet Senesino drooled for it — the castrato the part of Ruggiero was originally written for. It is reported he complained about the “Verdi prati” as being too simple. He wanted to show what he had got — with the “Sta nell’ircana” he most definitely could.
In a baroque aria, the singer has to comply to somehow strict rules concerning the appropriate embellishments. They are quite free in their choice, but not totally. In that version, they are unimaginative and boring, in my humble opinion. In this aria, the orchestra is depicting the menace, pursuing, the hunter going for the tigress in her cave. She ponders, unsure whether to attack the hunter, or even flee, but she won’t flee — unwilling to leave her young. The orchestra and the vocal line are supposed to interact — it is a dialogue. So this makes it different from Caesar’s “Va tacito”, e.g, where the singer, Caesar, is the hunter, and has the horn part following in his wake, so to speak. In the “Sta nell’ircana,” the singer takes the part of the tigress, waiting, lurking, a dangerous animal, cornered by the hunters. A tigress lurking in her cave is NOT screaming at the top of her voice — or rather growling — at least not all the time. And in this version it is not interactive — the hunters advance, the tiger reacts in some way — it is like sung on top of a playback.
The version doesn’t have ANY shade in dynamics, neither from the orchestra nor from the singer, apart from the sissy-ish trill at the end of the B-part, on “vince amor.” Why that? Is this meant mockingly? Is not love going to win after all? Well, the opera is not about mutual love so much, so I am forgiving that one. It is one of my favourite operas, but it is heartbreakingly sad. I never liked Ruggiero who leaves Alcina, the sorceress, heading for her meno-pause; she is left with nothing, no love, her world turned into meaninglessness. To top it off, she is killed in the end, her ex-lovers freed, and Ruggiero departs unscathed.
What kind of person does it take to leave this woman? (And that is her with her magical powers all gone, following the plot.)
Yes, I strongly dislike Ruggiero in total, even more after the Vienna version now 😉