A new CD by Patricia Petibon is a treat like no other. By now we know what to expect—stupendous vocal technique and range, extraordinarily nuanced response to text and context, creative programming …and that extra something that makes her sui generis, the one-and-only. Expectations are inevitably high from someone whose repertoire ranges from Rameau to Rorem to Lulu, and I am pleased to report that this latest CD is as exciting as anything la Petibon has released.
Taking as her premise that Baroque Europe was fascinated with the New Lands recent exploration had revealed, Petibon’s choice of music embraces selections from de Nebra’s Zarzuela: Vendado es amor, arias from Handel’s Spanish Cantata and Rameau’s les Indes Galantes, to music collected in sixteenth century Peru. Along the way we also encounter Purcell, Charpentier, and …Greensleeves! Truly a broad range. In anyone else’s hands, this could simply result in a mish-mash of disconnected snippets, but Petibon’s strong personality holds the recital together winningly.
One tends to think of singers’ backing bands as simply hired help, but Petibon’s orchestras are always more than that. Here she is accompanied by the celebrated early music ensemble la Cetra, under the direction of Andrea Marcon, and they bring a deftness and flourish that unfailing supports her more flamboyant moments, while also providing a solidly grounded sense of authenticity.