Mayr: Saffo

Reviewed on Tue 23 Feb, 2016

Contrasting with the overall delicacy of the music, there are some wonderful, florid arias, and a fantastic ensemble at the end of Act One. This recording is well worth listening to for the skill of the singers and the beauty of their voices.

Johann Simon Mayr (1763-1845) composed this, his first opera, with exquisite delicacy built on the robust framework of opera seria, albeit with some variations in form. Saffo is in love with Faone. He, however, is mourning his wife Cirene. Alceo is in love with Saffo and wishes her well, although she is not interested in him. They all pray to Apollo via the priestess Amfizione. In desperation Saffo prepares to throw herself from a cliff, but a vision of Cirene recommends Faone to take pity on Saffo, leading to a ‘happy ending’. Contrasting with the overall delicacy of the music, there are choruses, some wonderful, florid arias, and a fantastic ensemble at the end of Act One. This recording is well worth listening to for the skill of the singers and the beauty of their voices, combined with the grace of the accompaniment, where the performers display just the right light touch. There is no libretto, but the synopsis links the action to the tracks.
–Ruth Piatkus