Baroque rivalries (Diva wars)

Faustina Bordoni versus Francesca Cuzzoni

Concert with arias by Johann Adolf Hasse, Georg Friedrich Händel, Attilio Ariosti, Geminiano Giacomelli, Pietro Torri and Nicola Antonio Porpora.

Performed in Italian

Tuesday, 20 January 2015, 7.30 pm

Conductor & Violin: Andrés Gabetta

Soprano: Simone Kermes
Mezzo soprano: Vivica Genaux

Capella Gabetta


Nowadays, quarrelling “prima donnas” are only found in the soap operas that run on private television channels and boost ratings by battling for the title of Jungle Queen. But older opera-goers can still vividly recall how the two prima donnas Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi exchanged unpleasantries when at their peak, garnering generous media coverage. The most famous rival prima donnas in the history of music are without doubt the two Handel stars, Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni, who were sworn enemies. Their public quarrel of 6 June 1727 has gone down in the annals of opera history. It broke out on stage during a performance of Bononcini’s opera Astianatte, and was raucously cheered on by the London audience, eventually descending into torrents of abuse and a veritable brawl. As a tribute to these two great prima donnas of the first half of the 18th century, Simone Kermes and Vivica Genaux have put together - in perfectly friendly collaboration - Baroque Rivalries, a riotous soirée of baroque music bursting with rarities and jewels discovered in Bordoni’s and Cuzzoni’s repertoire including compositions by George Frideric Handel and Johann Adolf Hasse alongside numerous arias and duets by composers who today are all but forgotten, such as Antonio Lotti, Giovanni Porta and Giuseppe Arena.


Faustina Bordoni versus Francesca Cuzzoni

Concert with arias by Johann Adolf Hasse, George Frideric Handel, Antonio Lotti, Carlo Francesco Pollarolo, Nicola Porpora, Domenico Sarro, Leonardo Vinci and Antonio Vivaldi


Andrés Gabetta


Simone Kermes


Vivica Genaux


Cappella Gabetta