This recording is the latest instalment in Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s Mozart opera cycle for Deutsche Grammophon, and a worthy one. The playing by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe is spirited and always in service of the drama, and the roles are for the most part cast from strength.
Top of the list is mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, whose celebrated interpretation of Sesto is finally captured on disc. Though the top is not as free as it used to be, her dramatic instincts remain unparalleled and she movingly charts the character’s journey from lovestruck dupe to somebody wiser and wearier. Her coloratura is, as ever, eye-wateringly impressive – see Parto, parto, where she finds her match in the splendid playing of principal clarinet Romain Guyot.
Her Vitellia is the equally magnificent soprano Marina Rebeka. Hers is a thrillingly volatile operator, her Deh se piacer insinuating and her moment of clarity in Non piú di fiori a kaleidoscope of warring emotions.
The rest of the cast acquit themselves well. Newcomer Regula Mühlemann continues to impress as a winningly sincere Servilia, while Tara Erraught and Adam Plachetka make their respective Annio and Publio indispensable to the drama. One is inclined to be less clement with Rolando Villazon’s Emperor – there are some truly ragged moments, but he does remain an insightful artist. One to check out.