According to Sinfini, Amsterdam is the best city to live in if you love classical music. It certainly is a great city if you love Baroque opera. Performances are often of the highest calibre, with great orchestras and soloists. Last Saturday I enjoyed one such performance and reviewed it for Bachtrack. Greek ensemble Armonia Atenea brought Hasse’s Siroe to town, with star countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic in the title role and soprano Julia Lezhneva, whose amazing coloratura technique needs to be heard to be believed.
Farinelli, the great castrato, created the title role in Hasse’s first version of Siroe in 1733. The group portrait above shows, from left to right: Pietro Metastasio (Siroe’s librettist), Teresa Castellini (prima donna of the Madrid Opera), Farinelli, Jacopo Amigoni (who painted this picture circa 1750-1752), Farinelli’s dog, and Farinelli’s page boy. Castellini might have been the love of Farinelli’s life. If this portrait is true to life, their facial resemblance to each other was remarkable.