In the past five or six years, the recording industry has been very generous with baroque opera, in general, and Vivaldi's operas in specific (despite the well known crisis of classical music recordings). It has to do with all the research that has been done about this field and the Vivaldi's operas that have been found... Motezuma is the latest recording addition to this operatic side of Vivaldi's music and it is presented as a first world premiere of the original opera with some reconstruction for the recitativos. (In 1992 Jean- Claude Malgoire's make a recording of a pasticcio with the name of Montezuma, using music from cantantas, serenatas and other Vivaidi Operas).
To be honest, I was not expecting very much of the recording. Motezuma was written and performed in 1733, and, at this time, Vivaldi was concentrated more in pasticci and adaptations of earlier works than in composition of new music... Well, Motezuma is an exception: almost the entire score was composed for the libretto and the music is Vivaldi at his very best.
Il complesso Barocco and Alan Curtis need no recomendation, but in this specific work they are in great form... it may be the fact that they are really making new music, and you can feel it.
Now the singers. All of them are up to the challenge, and this is music of extreme virtuosity. Vito Priante has and imposing bass-bariton voice and sings fluent coloratura. I am not sure if Vivaldi wrote the part of Motezuma for low male voice insted of a castrato, but it works very well. Mariana Mijanovic sings the part of Mitrena, the emperor's wife. For me, she is the less effective of the singers in this recordings. She sounds to virile for the part. She is a contralto with a very androgenous voice that worked very well in Giulio Cesar with Minkowski but in this specific work, a more feminine and agile voice would be more appropriate, but, anyway, she is exciting! Roberta Invernizzi sings Teutile, the princess. She has very beautiful voice and fits the arias perfectly. Maite Beaumont sings Fernando, the spanish invader, and she could not be better. Her arias are very difficult with a very wide range and she is great! Romina Basso sings the small part of Ramiro, Fernando's brother, she has few moments but those are done very well. Inga Kalna sings another small part: Asprano, general of the mexicans... and surprisingly, I think this is the most difficult part in the entire opera. Few arias, but what kind of music! And Inga Kalna excels in it. You can listen to this prodigious singer in Rene Jacobs Giulio Cesar, where she takes the opera for herself... I wish she would record more often.
The story of the opera is an european-baroque-view of the conquest of Mexico but with interesting details: Motezuma and his wife are presented as a regal and loving couple willing to sacrifice themselves in the sake of honor... there is also a love story between the mexican princess and the brother of the invader.
Very recommendable recording. One of the best of the year. If you love baroque music, this is an opera you must have... if you don't love this genere, I am sure this recording will change your mind.