SN 8805


    1. In furore justissimae irae
      Aria - Recitativo - Aria - Alleluia     [21'28'']

    2. Nulla in mundo pax sincera
      Aria - Recitativo - Aria - Alleluia     [17'48'']

    3. Canta in prato, ride in monte
      Aria - Recitativo - Aria - Alleluia     [10'54'']

    4. O qui coeli terraeque serenitas
      Aria - Recitativo - Aria - Alleluia     [15'51'']

NELLA  ANFUSO  Cantatrice


Fabrizio Salterini  I Violino

Juditha Salterini  II Violino

Sabatino Servillo  Viola

Pietro Stella  Violoncello

Giancarlo De Frenza  Contrabasso

Ettore Maria del Romano  Organo

Soloists of the most famous ensembles of Italy



This album inaugurates a series devoted to Antonio Vivaldi's vocal works. The aim is to propose a perspective, if only rudimentarily (for we are still unearthing the immense production of vocal works by Prete Rosso), indicating the characteristics of Vivaldi's vocalism. Hence the listener may appreciate his creative inventiveness, borne out in the variety of diverse and well-defined formulas.


Vivaldi's era corresponds with “the golden age of Italian Canto”, when vocalism approached perfection and virtuosity attained its height. During these decades, whilst remaining the model to imitate for all musical instruments, the human voice reaches an instrumental mechanical perfection that will never more be obtained. Many voyagers of the era echoed the amazement of De Brosses: «(She) possesses an astonishing range, manipulating the throat as if she were bowing Somis' violin». In effect, this vocalism perfect rather than recreates the mechanism of emission, exploiting maximally its virtuosic possilities while remaining faithful to the infallible traditions of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Fundamental to the “good Italian school of canto” is the total fusion between two registers (the chest and the head or falsetto) such that a single register is produced. This “miraculous fusion”, permitting vocal acrobatics and all their conceivable effects, demands years of assiduous study: «(...) because if the union is imperfect, the voice emits in multiple registers and thereby loses its beauty» (P.P. Tosi, Opinioni de' Canton Antichi e Moderni, Bologna 1723). «(...) // can be obtained only if they are unified profoundly this is difficult to achieve naturally and purely. It demands years of study, fatigue, and ingenuity (...); few masters know the technical methods or how to apply them. The ensemble must form combinations that never violate the union of the full register». (Giambattista Mancini, Riflessioni pratiche sul Canto Figurato, Milano 1777).

The characteristics and splendid qualities of the perfect vocal instruments are: purity, homogeneity, roundness, mellowness, wide range, softness, portamento (legato and differenciated accents), perfect intonation and «spiccata» (detached) virtuosity.

One of the great Italian texts on vocalism of the epoch was written by Pier Francesco Tosi, and published in Bologna in 1723. Certain of the virtuoso's qualities are defined therein, as well as a methodology valuable for the entire vocal range. Included in this range is the high (feminine) octave guarded by the Musici (Castrati) who, after their operation, manipulate the fusion of two registers. This explains the rejection, in Italy, of the Falsettisti during the second half of the 16th century.

Passaggio: «(...) The Master should teach the Student that very delicate vocal movement wherein the notes are articulated proportionally and with moderate detachment, such that the «passaggio» is neither too tied nor too choppy. (...) All the beauty of the Passaggio consists in being perfectly exact: articulated, detached, balanced, and rapid».

Trill: «He who possesses a very good trill, even if he sing unadorned, has the constant advantage of good judgement concerning the Cadences, wherein the trill plays a primordial role. (...) The Student ought to acquire it in its most beautiful form: balanced, pronounced, detached, light, and moderately rapid». The trill is justifiably vocalism's primary element, and Tosi may reasonably affirm: «(...) He who lacks this talent (or formulates it defectively) will never be a great singer, despite his learning». Imagine the number of pseudo-great vocalist Tosi would denounce if he lived today!

It is imperative that we guard the memory of that which was undeniably the primary interest for the composers, singers, and public of the golden age of Italian canto: the quality and characteristics of vocalism, that which constitutes, strictly speaking, the art of canto. This art demands the fulfillment of one precondition: the fusion of the two registers in perfect symbiosis. Voices operating outside the boundaries of this fusion necessarily demean the fore-mentioned qualities of this vocalism's true realization. On all vocal, aesthetic, and historical planes, the falsetto performances so much in vogue today (carrying the name countertenor, haute-contre etc.) are thus rendered meaningless. Equally ludicrous is the propagation of this immense repertory by voices which, lacking the mechanism permitting perfect emission, cannot possibly reproduce the characteristics of the era's vocalism.

Furthermore, one cannot forget the particularities of Vivaldi's case. The majority of his vocal music was conceived for and dedicated to the Daughters of the Pietà, universally recognized as great virtuosos. We recall certain given names, cited in the manuscripts: Chiaretta (Soprano), Bolognesa (Soprano), Apollonia (Soprano), Ambrosina (Contralto), Albetta (Contralto), Marietta (Soprano), Geltrude (Contralto), without excluding, of course, «Annina della Pietà».

The Italian Aria of the 17th and 18th centuries presents a tripartite structure: A-B-A. No singer of epoch would dare to ignore the precise rules characterizing its execution. The Aria with Da Capo offered an occasion to demonstrate one's artistic capacities (involving taste and inventiveness), as well as the purely virtuosic. The only problem was a tendency to exaggerate which Tosi himself condemns: «Each aria contains at least three Cadences, presented at the end. Today, the Singers' task consists in ending the first part with flow of passages ad libitum and making the Orchestra wait. While the Cadence of the second part is lengthened, the Orchestra loses interest; in the repetition (of last Cadence in Da capo Arias), one lights the girandole of Castel S. Angelo and the Orchestra blasphemes». Benedetto Marcello, in the chapter devoted to Cantatrici in his «Teatro alla Moda» reaffirms: «And when the VIRTUOSA no longer knows what to reinvent, she should introduce Passages within the trill itself; only this variation lacks today».

In her first part, therefore, the Aria should be sung simply, with only a few «appoggiature» and trills; in the second part the singer should vary frugally; «... (for) while singing the Aria da capo, he who does not vane improvising his song is not a great Man» (P.P. Tosi).

The Cadence is needed at the end of each of the Aria's parts; it begin with a simple trill prepared by a «messa di voce» and end with a series of passages of varying lengths. Only the Sicilian Aria presents an exception to the virtuosic style, conserving the simplicity and expressive quality of a «pathetic» while permitting brief virtuosic passages. Most valuable to the «cantabile» and «pathetic» airs is the «rubato», defined by Tosi as the «glorious larceny of he who sings better than all others».



Such is the terminology describing the motets, nearly universal among the manuscripts at Turin's National Library which are used in this recorded edition.

Nella Anfuso's interpretation permits a taste of a vocal art whose style and sensitivity, from all historical and aesthetic perspectives, is unequalled in our time. In the vocalism of this great Artist, one rediscovers all the fore-mentioned qualities. On the stylistic level, one cannot ignore the simplicity with which Nella Anfuso executes the «Larghetto» (Siciliana) of the motet «Nulla in pax». Uncommon legato and portamento are remarkable in this performance by this «virtuosa degli spiccati».

The instrumental performance has been entrusted to solo instruments. At the time, motets-an popular genre-were performed by more diverse ensembles than required for operas. In this performance the original instruments of the eighteenth century (Guadagnini, Guarneri, Gagliano) use covered - gut strings as were also used at that time.

Today, one understands fully the historical absurdity of an idea as the «a» «baroque violin».

As with the pitch 415 (we know that each city had its own pitch wich varied from place), the instruments varied widely with respect to design, strings, bows, etc. It suffices to read the texts of Raguenet (1702), Muffat (1694), Monteclair (1712), Corrette (1738), etc.

As for the use of vibrato, one recalls the words of Geminiani (a Corelli's student): «(it) contributes make their Sound more agreable for this Reason it should be made use of as often as possible». The human voice was the model which instruments of the age were compelled to imitate; this performance perpetuates the dogmas of the great Tartini: «legato» demanded by the cantabile, and «spiccato» by the rapid movements.

The performance of the Basso Continue uses a historical instrument, an Italian Positive Organ of the latter half of the seventeenth century (original pitch 450 Hertz).

Testo Musicologico del Prof. Annibale Gianuario

François RAGUENET (Parallèle des Italiens et des Français - 1702):

  «(...) Les violons sont montés (en Italie) de cordes plus grosses que les nostres, ils ont des archets beaucoup plus longs et ils savent tirer de leurs violons une fois plus de son que nous.» «Les français flattent l’oreille, les Italiens la violentent».

Ornaments and Cadenze by NELLA ANFUSO