It would be hard to imagine a more seductive hero, a more passionate performer, a more glorious interpreter of the great Romantic roles of Verdi and Puccini than Rolando Villazón. Yet the singer's temporary withdrawal from the spotlight in 2007 opened up a wealth of new possibilities for the singer. Among the "new paths" that Villazón envisioned for the future were "adventures" such as Baroque music. Next to a recording of works by the early Baroque composer Claudio Monteverdi, he now offers a selection of arias by George Frideric Handel. This intimate concert featuring Villazón and the Gabrieli Players under Paul McCreesh was filmed in a setting that ideally suits the style of the music, St. Paul's Church in Deptford, near London, one of Britain's finest Baroque churches. It was built between 1712 and 1730, almost exactly when Handel was writing his most celebrated operas and oratorios.
Villazón proves that he is a master of dazzling coloratura, virtuoso runs and expressive cantabile melodies. Among the highlights of the concert - which also includes two purely orchestral works - are the beloved arioso "Ombra mai fù" from Serse, Grimoaldo's aria "Pastorello d'un povero armento" from Rodelinda, the lyrical, longing "Scherza infida" from Ariodante, and Bajazet's spirited aria "Ciel e terra armi di sdegno" from Tamerlano. Villazón is joined by soprano Rebecca Bottone and countertenor Timothy Travers-Brown in the death scene of Bajazet from Tamerlano.