Thursday, 24 May 2012

More Olympic opera

Since my Blog of the 13th May 2012 there is more news on performances of L’Olimpiade based on the libretto by the Italian poet Pietro Metastasio (1698-1782).

At 7.30pm on Monday 28th May 2012, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London there will be a concert performance in the form of a ‘pasticcio’ with music by many of the composers that set the libretto to music.

The Venice Baroque Orchestra will be directed by Andrea Marcon with the soloists Romina Basso (mezzo-soprano), Delphine Galou (mezzo-soprano), Ruth Rosique (soprano), Luanda Siqueira (soprano), Jeremy Ovenden (tenor) and Nicholas Spanos (countertenor).

This complete performance will use arias by Caldara, Vivaldi, Pergolesi, Leo, Galuppi, Perez, Hasse, Traetta, Jommelli, Piccinni, Gassman, Myslivecek, Cherubini, Cimarosa and Paisiello.

In my last Blog I said that more than thirty composers had used the libretto but it seems that there were more than fifty composers that set this story of friendship, loyalty and passion! Is this the greatest use of one libretto ever?

Of the composers featured in this performance only the names Vivaldi, Pergolesi, Cherubini, Myslivecek and Cimarosa will probably be known. So who were the others?

Antonio Caldara (1670 – 1736) was born in Venice the son of a violinist. He became a chorister at St Mark's in Venice, where he learned to play the viol, cello and keyboard. After posts in Mantua and Rome, he went to Vienna to serve as maestro di cappella at the Imperial Court. He wrote over 1000 works and his operas and oratorios made him a central figure in the creation of music drama.

Lionardo Oronzo Salvatore de Leo (1694 –1744) was born in San Vito dei Normanni in Italy. He became maestro di cappella in Naples and taught at the Turchini Conservatory becoming primo maestro in 1741. He composed over 60 stage works, mostly for Naples.

Baldassare Galuppi (1706 –1785) was an Italian composer, born on the island of Burano in the Venetian Republic. He worked in Florence and Venice as well as London, Moscow and St Petersburg where he was music director of Catherine the Great’s chapel. He wrote around 30 opera buffa and around 70 serious operas.

David Perez (1711–1778) was an Italian opera composer born in Naples. He held posts in the Royal Chapel in Palermo becoming maestro di cappella and later became maestro di cappella at the Portuguese court. He wrote over 35 operas.

Johann Adolph Hasse (c.1699–1783) was born in Bergedorf, Germany from a family of musicians. He studied in Italy under Alessandro Scarlatti and later became Kapellmeister to the Saxon court. Besides operas he composed oratorios and a large amount of church music.

Tommaso Michele Francesco Saverio Traetta (1727 –1779) was born in Bitonto, Italy. He studied in Naples and had his first operas staged there. He became maestro di cappella to the court in Parma and later music director to the Russian court chapel in St Petersburg. He wrote over 40 stage works.

Niccolò Jommelli (1714 –1774) was an Italian composer, born in Aversa. He studied in Naples and presented his first comic opera there. He later became Ober-Kapellmeister at the Stuttgart court as well as composing for the Lisbon court. He wrote over 100 stage works.

Niccolò Piccinni (1728 -1800) was born in Bari, Italy and was a composer of symphonies, sacred music, chamber music, and opera. He studied with Leo (above) in Naples and had operas produced there. He was second maestro di cappella at Naples cathedral before travelling to Paris where he composed French opera. His Italian operas number over 100.

Florian Leopold Gassmann (1729 –1774) was a German-speaking Bohemian opera composer who studied in Italy and worked in Venice. He later succeeded Gluck as Viennese court ballet composer. He wrote 15 operas as well as 33 symphonies.

Giovanni Paisiello (1740 –1816) was a Neapolitan composer, born in Roccaforzata, who studied in Naples where he became a leading comic opera composer becoming dramatic and then chamber composer to the King of Naples. Most of his over 80 operas are comic.

If you can’t get to the Queen Elizabeth Hall then you can hear this concert live on BBC Radio 3             
Such a novelty is well worth getting to hear.

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