Jean Racine, the supreme tragedian of Renaissance France, came out of retirement to write a pair of Biblical dramas for the impoverished young noblewomen receiving their education at the charitable Maison Royale de Saint-Louis. The prolific baroque master Antonio Vivaldi, known as the Red Monk, wrote no end of music for the orphan girls at the Ospedale della Pietà, in Venice, which thanks to his efforts ranked among the top tourist attractions of the city. Juditha triumphans, the decorous celebration of the quintessential Biblical heroine, is one of the long list of works written for performance there. In a rare concert revival, Jean-Christophe Spinosi has assembled a historically correct all-female ensemble of top-flight Vivaldi specialists led by Marie-Nicole Lemieux as Judith and Sonia Prina as Holofernes, the enemy who loses his head. —M.G.
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