FAUSTINA BORDONI – Faces of a Prima Donna


Arion Baroque Orchestra
Guest Conductor Monica Huggett
With Kimberly Barber, mezzo-soprano
and with the participation of Jonathan Carle, baritone
2005, MVCD 1172

Faustina Bordoni (1697–1781, Venice) was universally ranked among the greatest singers of her age. This was at a time when the great castrati of the 18th century ruled the operatic stage, but Faustina, as she was known, was no less revered. Chroniclers raved about the flexibility and brilliance of her voice, her perfect intonation, outstanding breath control, and her musical intelligence. It was also said that her extraordinary singing abilities were matched by her acting.

It was this combination of a great singer and actor whose story needed to be told that inspired Toronto music critic and programmer Tamara Bernstein to create the program on which this CD is based, for the Montreal ensemble ARION. The recording features works by Handel, one of Faustina’ most devoted admirers, and by Johann Adolf Hasse, a composer of great talent and also Faustina’s loving husband.

The CD presents the talented Canadian mezzo-soprano KIMBERLY BARBER. The musical accompaniment and interludes in this recording go to one of Canada’s greatest early music ensembles, ARION, famous for its refined and expressive performances. The group calls upon world-renowned guest conductors to perform vocal and instrumental works in its high-profile series of concerts in Montreal. For this occasion, soloist, director and chamber musician extraordinaire MONICA HUGGETT leads the ensemble. The gifted young baritone, JONATHAN CARLE also assists.

Product Description

Arion Baroque Orchestra
Guest conductor Monica Huggett, baroque violin
Kimberly Barber, mezzo-soprano
Jonathan Carle, baritone

See Program notes here.

Johann Adolf Hasse (1689 –1783)

From the opera Cleofide (1731) Act l
Sinfonia in D
1 Allegro di molto 1 :41
2 Allegretto 1 :38
3 Allegro assai 1 :00
Act II
4 Qual tempesta d’affetti 2 :35
5 Son qual misera colomba 5 :36


George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

From the opera Admeto (1727) Act II
Overture (Sinfonia)
6 Largo 1 :56
7 Allegro 1 :22
Scène I
8 In van ti scuoti, in vano 0 :53
9 Sinfonia 1 :29
Scene 7
10 A qual fine, Regina 2 :18
11 Gelosia spietata Aletto 5 :03
12 La dove gli occhi io giro 6 :23


Johann Adolf Hasse

From the opera Cleofide (1731) Act l
13 Allegro assai 2 :30
14 Andante 3 :40
15 Minuetto – Presto – Minuetto 2 :01
16 Se mai turbo il tuo riposo 5 :46


George Frideric Handel

From the opera Riccardo Primo (1727) Act l
17 Largo 1 :29
18 Allegro 1 :47
Act II
Scene l
19 Ah, padre! Ah, Cielo! 1 :29
20 Quel gelsomino, che imperla il prato 5 :36
Scene IV
21 L’Aquila altera conoscere I figli 5 :43


George Frideric Handel

From the opera Admeto (1727) Act l
Scene 3
22 Luci care, addio, posate 5 :25


KIMBERLY BARBER : mezzo-soprano

Mezzo-soprano Kimberly Barber maintains an international career which has taken her to musical centres in the Far East, Hawaii, Great Britain, the United States, Canada and throughout Europe. Ms. Barber debuted at New York City Opera in the spring of 2002 as Nero in Handel’s Agrippina during a busy season which also included Suzuki in Madama Butterfly for the Seattle Opera and Das Lied von der Erde for I Musici de Montreal. She recently added Paris to her list of stops on the international circuit with debut performances as Annio in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito at the Paris Opera. She was featured by the Minnesota Orchestra in Argento’s Casaguidi, appeared with the Edmonton Opera as Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel and also took the title role in Handel’s Ariodante for Toronto’s Opera in Concert.

In the 2003-2004 season she returns to Handel and Toronto’s Opera in Concert for the title role in Rinaldo, performed in the 1731 version for Senesino. Ms. Barber also returns to Seattle and a production of Ariadne auf Naxos, appearing as der Komponist.

In the 2002 – 2003 season Kimberly Barber debuted with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in a new work by Argento and she enjoyed a successful tour of Japan conducted by Seiji Ozawa in a double bill of L’Heure Espagnole and Gianni Schicchi. She was heard in Messiah for the Kitchener Waterloo Philharmonic Choir and had concerts scheduled in Toronto and for Wilfrid Laurier University where she is currently Artist-in-Residence.

Following her impressive debut performance in the title role of Handel’s Xerxes for Seattle Opera, Ms. Barber repeated the role with the Canadian Opera Company. She was also featured as Erika in Seattle Opera’s production of Barber’s Vanessa. On the recording front, her disc of songs by Aaron J. Kernis is already in release as is her Concepciòn in L’heure espagnole for Deutsche Grammophon. The Ravel masterpiece, conducted by André Previn leading the London Symphony, was recorded following live performances at Barbican Hall in the British capital. Recent season highlights include her debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as der Komponist in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, the Fauré and Duruflé Requiems under Myung- Whun Chung at the Accademia de Santa Cecilia in Rome and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly under Tim Albery’s direction for Opera Zuid.

Ms. Barber’s European career began in Frankfurt, where she appeared as Cherubino, Dorabella, Rosina, der Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos, Annio in La Clemenza di Tito and Ramiro in La finta giardiniera. The principal ‘trouser roles’ of Mozart, Rossini, and Strauss (Johann and Richard) are also mainstays in her repertoire. Following her personal triumph as Isolier in Le Comte Ory for the Canadian Opera Company, she electrified audiences at the Calgary Opera in the title role of La Cenerentola. She is a sparkling stage champion of the French repertoire including the title role in Massenet’s Cendrillon and Nicklausse/Muse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann. She also scored a huge success as Lazuli in Chabrier’s L’Étoile for l’Opéra Français de New York, and again with Opera Zuid in Holland where she was hailed for “her scintillating phrasing, razor-sharp timing and astonishingly plastic body language”.

Twentieth century works in Ms. Barber’s repertoire include Hermia in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Frankfurt), Pauline in English National Opera’s The Gambler by Prokofiev and Alyeya in Janácek’s From The House of The Dead for Vancouver Opera, also under Pountney’s direction.

In concert, she has been a guest soloist with Gerard Schwarz’ Mainly Mozart Festival in New York City as well as with the Chicago, Toronto, Cincinnati, and Montréal symphonies in repertoire ranging from Beethoven to Bernstein. As a recitalist, she counts Carnegie and Wigmore Hall debuts among her list of credits.



Mr. Carle is a graduate of the Vocal Performance Bachelor and Master of Music degrees at McGill University. As a member of Opera McGill, Mr. Carle has performed diverse roles including Il Conte Almaviva, in Le nozze di Figaro, Ford, in Falstaff, Frank, in Die Fledermaus, Dr. Miracle, in Les Contes d’Hoffman, Don Quixotte, in Don Quixotte by Telemann, and the title role in Don Giovanni. For the Summer Opera Lyric Theatre in Toronto, Mr. Carle sang Ford in their 1999 production of Falstaff. For Opera North, Mr. Carle has sung Morales and Guglielmo in 2001 and 2002, respectively. In the Summer of 2003 Mr. Carle was a member of Glimmerglass Opera’s prestigious ‘Young American Artists Program’ where he performed various roles in Robert Kurka’s The Good Soldier Schweik and covered the title role in Don Giovanni.

A frequent recitalist at McGill, Mr. Carle recently made his professional debut singing a broadcast recital for “La Chaine culturelle de la Radio Canada.” In oratorio he has performed as soloist Wolf’s Italieniesches Liederbuch, Orff’s Carmina Burana, the Brahms and Mozart Requiems, Handel’s Messiah and Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs. Mr. Carle won several awards from the Faculty of Music at McGill University and was awarded 1st place at the N.A.T.S. 2002 Eastern Region Auditions.

Upcoming engagements include contracts with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and Sarasota Opera.


monica huggettMONICA HUGGETT : guest conductor & baroque violin

Monica tours all over the world as soloist, director, and chamber musician, and has recorded on the EMI, Harmonia Mundi, Philips, Virgin, Erato, Decca and early-music.com labels with such orchestras as the Hanover Band, Raglan Baroque Players, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Academy of Ancient Music, Arion and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra (which she formed with former Portland Baroque Orchestra Artistic Advisor Ton Koopman in 1980 and led until 1987).

With Sonnerie, Monica has championed the works of the French baroque masters, and has recorded chamber works by Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Beethoven with the chamber ensemble Hausmusik. In addition to her busy performing and recording schedule, she is also Professor of Baroque Violin at the Koninklijk Conservatorium, Den Haag, in the Netherlands. She is also Artistic Director of the Portland Baroque Orchestra which is based in Oregon, USA.

Ms. Huggett performs on a violin made in Cremona, Italy, in 1618 by Hieronymus and Antonius Amati.

Monica Huggett is a member of early-music.com, a site committed to the promotion of some of the world’s finest early music artists.


Arion Baroque Orchestra

The musicians of Arion started playing together in 1981. Flautist Claire Guimond has been the group’s artistic director since its inception. From the outset, Arion’s concerts were unanimously hailed for their clarity and gusto as well as their refined and expressive performances of a vast array of carefully-chosen early music works. An unrelenting attention to detail has made Arion’s artistic achievements worthy of those of the greatest current early music ensembles in North America.

The group calls upon world-renowned guest conductors to perform vocal and instrumental works in its high-profile series of concerts in Montreal. They include Barthold Kuijken, Monica Huggett, Stephen Stubbs and Jaap ter Linden.

A recipient of numerous awards and grants, Arion has toured extensively throughout Canada, Europe, Mexico and the United States. Recent years have brought the musicians to the Canadian Prairies, Europe (with a performance at the prestigious SouthBank Centre in London), the Canadian Maritimes and the east coast of the United States.

Arion has 25 recordings distributed internationally both as a quartet and in a larger setting with the collaboration of such fine artists as recorder player Marion Verbruggen, sopranos Agnès Mellon and Suzie LeBlanc, countertenors Matthew White and Daniel Taylor, baritone Max van Egmond, violinist and conductor Monica Huggett, Barthold Kuijken and Jaap ter Linden and some of the most important soloists in the country.

Arion is a member of early-music.com, a site committed to the promotion of some of the world’s finest early music artists.

Arion Baroque Orchestra

First violins
Monica Huggett, concertmaster
Chantal Rémillard
Olivier Brault
Chloe Meyers

Second violins
Hélène Plouffe
Paule Préfontaine
Jacques-André Houle

Stéphanie Bozzini
Élisabeth Comtois

Isabelle Bozzini
Felix Deak

Éric Lagacé

Claire Guimond

Washington McClain
Matthew Jennejohn

Suzanne DeSerres

Jocelyn Veilleux
Guy Carmichael

Olivier Fortin

Recorded 11, 12 and 13 November, 2003 at the Sainte-Geneviève-de-Pierrefonds Church, Montréal.
Recording Engineer : Richard Lavallée
Recording Engineer : Alain Chénier
Digital editing and mastering : Denis Frenette
Production Assistant : Pauline Arbour Graphic
Design : Caroline Brown

Arion would like to thank tamara Bernstein for having proposed this project and for having participated in its creation.

© 2005 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, all rights reserved. Made in Canada

MVCD 1172.