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The Aria Ombra mai Fu, from Handel's Opera Serse.
  • Countertenor Christopher Lowrey sings the aria Ombra mai fù, from Handel's opera Serse. 4K, Ultra HD video from the Voices of Music "Art of the Countertenor" concert, March, 2016.

    Handel’s arias form one of the core repertories for singers of 18th-century music, owing not only to the quality of the compositions but also to the variety of affects and styles present in his operas, oratorios and sacred music. The aria “Ombra mai fù,” known also as “Handel’s Largo,” is one of his best-known works; somewhat surprisingly, it comes down to us through a circuitous path. The original version was composed by Cavalli in the mid-17th century, then “borrowed” by Bononcini for his 1694 production of the opera Serse, then substantially revised by Handel for his own version of Serse which premiered in London in April of 1738. Handel's version retains the overall texture, scoring and melodic shapes of the original, but Handel reworks the vocal line and creates more interplay between the singer and the violins.

    Ombra mai fù di vegetabile, cara ed amabile, soave più. —Nicolò Minato Never was the shade from any plant more dear, more lovely, or so sweet.

    The Musicians and their Instruments Voices of Music performs on original instruments: hear the music played on instruments from the time of the composer. Lisa Grodin, baroque viola by Mathias Eberl, Salzburg, Austria, 1680 Kati Kyme, baroque violin by Johann Gottlob Pfretzschner, Mittenwald, 1791 Carla Moore, baroque violin by Johann Georg Thir, Vienna, Austria, 1754 Maxine Nemerovski, baroque violin by Joseph Gaffino, Paris, 1769 Elisabeth Reed, baroque cello, anonymous, 1673 Farley Pearce, violone by George Stoppani, Manchester, 1985, after Amati, 1560 David Tayler, archlute by Andreas von Holst, Munich, 2012, after Tieffenbrucker, c1610 Hanneke van Proosdij, baroque organ by Winold van der Putten, Finsterwolde, Netherlands, 2004, after early 18th-century northern German instruments Gabrielle Wunsch, baroque violin by Lorenzo Carcassi, Florence, Italy, 1765

    Gear: 2xFDR-ax100 2xVitaliy-G7 2xCanon G10 2xMkh40 2xribbon mics 2xQTC30, recorded straight to DR680.

  • 7 Replies sorted by
  • Stunningly beautiful!

  • Thanks, Paul!

  • Sounds great! You've got the magic touch on these performance recordings. (Small note: It looked like the audio was a hair out of sync when I watched singer. Could be opera singing looks different than talking/dialogue plus fact language is different.) Great stuff here - thanks for posting.

  • The audio depends on the browser and the hardware. I just basically set it a fraction (like a 20th of a frame) behind the video--cause it looks strange when the audio is ahead of the video, and try to hope for a time when there's a cross platform sync standard.

  • That does sound annoying as hell. Keep up the great work Dr, your recordings truly feel as if I'm right there.

  • I'm watching the violins which seem OK......There's always some audio drift...

  • Beautiful, great job