“In this performance of Germanico in Germania, mezzo-soprano Mary-Ellen Nesi sings Caffarelli’s part with swagger that suggests that the castrato’s boasts that he rather than Farinelli was Porpora’s greatest protégé were not unfounded. From Arminio’s first entrance in Act One, Nesi makes the valiant warrior a dangerous adversary for Rome and Germanico, presenting his defiance with unshakably firm vocalism. She commands the tessitura with few of the shortcomings that mar other singers’ performances of similar music.
The communicative power of Nesi’s voicing of ‘A lei, che il mondo adora’ discloses the rewards of her artistic shrewdness, but here and in the riveting accompagnato scene with Cecina in Act Two it is above all the quality of the voice that compels admiration. The fiendish divisions in ‘Empi, se mai disciolgo’ are dispatched with galvanizing precision at a brisk tempo, elevating the tension that erupts in her nuanced, radiantly beautiful account of ‘Parto, ti lascio, o cara.’ In Nesi’s performance, the character’s integrity is always apparent in the emotionally volatile terzetto with Rosmonda and Germanico. The mezzo-soprano wields such histrionic authority in her articulation of ‘Nemica del valor barbara sorte!’ that this scene in Act Three could veritably be an opera in its own right. The tenderness of this Arminio’s discourse with his wife in the duetto with Rosmonda, ‘Se viver non poss’io,’ is endearing, and, in the opera’s final scene, the accompagnato ‘Vindice Dea’ draws from Nesi declamation of poetic potency. Nesi has ever been a noteworthy interpreter of music originally composed for castrati, but her singing on these discs confirms that her work is one of the most cogent vindications of the rejuvenation of this repertoire”.
Voix des Arts