Barry Smith and Marina Griebenow reviews Zazzo Baroque Recital

On Sunday, 17th February Cape Town audiences were treated to a sumptuous afternoon of Baroque vocal and instrumental music presented by the KT Wong Foundation in its first partnership with Cape Town Opera and Camerata Tinta Barocca. Held in the impressive Main Hall of the Centre of the Book it featured world-renowned countertenor, Lawrence Zazzo, sharing the programme with two South African sopranos, Brittany Smith and Lynelle Kenned. They were accompanied by the Cape Town Baroque ensemble, Camerata Tinta Barocca, led from the harpsichord by their Artistic Director, Erik Dippenaar.
The whole occasion proved a tour de force and the packed hall gave Zazzo a tremendous welcome, fully appreciating the many great Handelian arias which were included in the programme.  We were given masterly performances of some of the most transfixing bits of both Rodelinda and Giulio Cesare. To this he added a particularly impressive interpretation of the famous ‘Mad Scene’ from Handel’s Orlando – Zazzo bursting on to the stage in a manner worthy of Shakespeare in Henry V – ‘lending the eye a terrible aspect’ letting it ‘pry through the portage of the head.’  This was Baroque opera at its very best and the enthusiastic audience knew that.
The two sopranos provided a perfect contrast in their arias from Guilio Cesare and Alcina rising easily to the demands of the music, both beguiling the audience with their agility and dulcet tones. Throughout one was reminded of Milton’s gentle words:
‘As may with sweetness, through mine ear
Dissolve me into ecstasies,
And bring all Heav’n before mine eyes.’
Erik Dippenaar, presided from the harpsichord and drew wonderful sounds from the players, alert and always balanced. How lucky are we in Cape Town to have such performers who give us magical opportunities like this!  – Barry Smith

A RECITAL TO REMEMBER
On Sunday, 17 February 2019, a singular treat awaited Cape Town’s lovers of Baroque opera in the rarefied atmosphere of the Centre for the Book. Thanks to an extremely successful collaboration between the KT Wong Foundation, Camerata Tinta Barocca and Cape Town Opera, a sumptious international recital of Handel arias and duets by renowned counter-tenor Lawrence Zazzo from the United States was presented, our own sopranos Lynelle Kenned and Brittany Smith joining him in “Caro! Bella! Più amabile beltà” and “V’adoro pupille” respectively. The music allowed Kenned and Smith to show off their pristine top registers and they also revelled in the opportunity to display their agility and brilliance in the various embellishments. Zazzo, on the other hand, completely captivated and charmed the audience with his intelligent, energetic and technically superb performance of arias such as “Vivi tiranno”, “Se in fiorito ameno prato” from Giulio Cesare in Egitto and “Pompe vane di morte – Dove sei” from Rodelinda, all delivered with the required dramatic flair. Of course none of this would have been possible without the support of the Camerata Tinta Barocca orchestra under the able leadership of Erik Dippenaar. The highly memorable concert, two hours of sublime music, left one hankering after many more such quality recitals in the future. – Marina Griebenow