Many singers have served up their ‘tribute’ album to the great voices of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, but the Belgian soprano Sophie Junker’s makes a refreshing change in her choice of a singer about whom we know virtually nothing.

Album artwork

Alongside names such as La Cuzzoni and La Bordoni, La Francesina (“the little French woman”) is the least well known of Handel’s musies, and certainly the least documented. Although we still don’t know where or when she was born, the soprano Élisabeth Duparc arrived in London in the 1730s, and her birdlike coloratura inspired the great composer just as he was making the transition from opera impresario to undisputed master of the new genre of oratorio. Starting with the 1738...

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