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When one looks at the biographies of famous prima donnas, the suspicion sometimes arises that opera is not really an art form but a way of life. At any rate, for many of its protagonists, the theatrics, the scheming and the scandalmongerin of the stage appear to flow seamlessly into real life. And the situation in the eighteenth century was no different from today. Among the most famous and also the most notorious stars of European opera houses was the Italian diva Francesca Cuzzoni, whose extravagance must have been as phenomenal as her singing talent. Had there already been a gutter press in her time, La Cuzzoni would certainly have been one of the most reliable suppliers of headlines. But, even without tabloids, news of La Cuzzoni’s affairs got around quickly, and indeed seem to have played no small part in the fascination she exercised over her audience. Her early success, her fairytale fame and eventually her dramatic fall caught the imagination of the musical world. This CD features some of the most beautiful and breathtaking arias, composed for the diva by Handel.