Saturday, 9 November 2013


“O’ What may man within him hide, though angel on the outward side!” - William Shakespeare

For Music Saturday, a beautiful aria performed by countertenor Philippe Jaroussky. It is “Alto Giove”, an aria for castrato male voice from  “Polifemo” (1735), an opera by the Neapolitan baroque composer Nicola Porpora (1686-1768).

The illustration is the 1733 painting, “Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his Sisters” by Philip Mercier (circa 1689-1760). In this portrait the 26-year-old Prince is shown playing the cello with three of his younger sisters; from left to right, Anne, Princess Royal (age 24) at the harpsichord, Princess Caroline (age 20) plucking a mandora (a form of lute) and Princess Amelia (age 22) reading from Milton. In the background is the Dutch House or Kew Palace at Kew where Anne lived before her marriage in 1734 to Prince William of Orange. The suggestion of harmony between the siblings belies the antipathy felt by his family for Frederick; it is said that he was hardly on speaking terms with Anne in the year that this portrait was painted.

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