You named your latest albumafter an aria, Ombra mai fu. But Baroque opera lovers are in for a surprise…

Philippe Jaroussky Philippe Jaroussky. Photo ©  Josef Fischnaller

It’s true, I played with this familiarity on purpose! The public is familiar with Ombra mai fufrom the Handel opera Serse, when in fact we owe the first Ombra mai fuin the history of music to Francesco Cavalli, from his 1654 opera Xerse. Handel used the same libretto more than 80 years later. I wanted to defend Cavalli’s version. It still has the same richness and sensual pleasure. The music seems so simple but it’s more complex than one might think.

So why dedicate an album to Cavalli?

Cavalli was born in 1602, he was a student of Monteverdi and teacher to the composer Barbara Strozzi. He was a singer as well, which makes it a dream for me: he knows the voice inside and out. The golden era of castrati was the 18th century, but all these early operas by Cavalli were sung by castrati in the 17th century, so there are also virtuosic arias. If there’s one composer who is Venetian...

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