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“Quell’usignuolo,” from Farnace (Ferrara, 1738). *The aria is sung by Gilade, a captain in Berenice’s army, and follows a confrontation between the soldier and his queen. Gilade muses on his love for Selinda, whom Berenice has ordered him to put to death. Cast in the style of a pastoral lament, and adopting the traditional metaphor of the nightingale singing of his love in an Arcadian grove, “Qell’usignuolo” piles up technical difficulties without ever sacrificing expression to vocal gymnastics. But Vivaldi did more than simply write some fiendishly difficult passages (which make this aria a real tour de force for the singer); he also succeeded in elaborating one of the most poignant melodies ever to come from his pen.*