Handel Heroes
Max Emanuel Cencic leads star cast, including Vince Yi and Juan Sancho
World’s first complete recording of Handel’s Arminio

“Mr Cencic is blessed with the finest countertenor voice of our day”, Opernwelt

Decca Classics is proud to release the first ever complete recording of Arminio, Handel’s opera of political intrigue and dynastic struggle. First staged at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden in January 1737, this first-rate opera is brought to life by a superb cast led by Max Emanuel Cencic and the hot-shot period-instrument players of Armonia Atenea directed by George Petrou. The album is set for international release in February 2016. Max Emanuel Cencic’s performance as Arminio spans the breadth of human emotions, from despair and yearning to defiance and joy. It confirms why the New York Times recently hailed the countertenor’s “honeyed timbre” and “liquid, expressive phrasing”.

Arminio was declared “a miracle” by one contemporary commentator and praised by another as being “in every respect excellent & vastly pleasing”. It enjoyed a run at Covent Garden before becoming neglected, and was not staged again until the mid-1930s, when it was revived in heavily altered form in Leipzig. Decca’s new album flows from a thrilling new production of the piece by Parnassus Arts under Max Emanuel Cencic’s artistic direction and follows their multiple award-winning staging and recording of Handel’s Alessandro. Cencic is joined by a dream cast, including the acclaimed South Korean countertenor Vince Yi, Canadian soprano Layla Claire, Spanish tenor Juan Sancho and the Greek bass Petros Magoulas.

Arminio tells the story of the heroic German warrior Arminius (Hermann), prince of the Chauci and Cherusci tribes. Captured by the invading Roman general Varo and betrayed by his father-in-law Segeste, Arminio and his brother-in-law Sigismondo are determined to defy the enemy. Segeste expects Arminio’s execution and plans that his daughter, Tusnelda, should be remarried to Varo. When the Germans counter-attack, Arminio escapes and leads his forces to victory over Varo and the Romans. Varo is killed in action, while Segeste considers taking his own life. But Arminio pardons his father-in-law and is reunited with his wife.

In his notes to the album, Handel scholar David Vickers describes Arminio as “one of the least performed and most unfamiliar of all [Handel’s] mature London theatre works”; the composer’s demanding writing for two star castrati having presented a stumbling block to the work’s revival. Thanks to the virtuoso artistry of Max Emanuel Cencic and Vince Yi, Arminio can now be heard in its full glory.

 

Max Emanuel Cencic

Handel: Arminio

Layla Claire · Ruxandra Dunose
Vince Yi · Juan Sancho · Xavier Sabata · Petros Magoulas

Armonia Atenea
George Petrou

International release February 2016
2 CD 00289 478 8764