Author Topic: Vicenzo Righini - (1756-1812)  (Read 8198 times)

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Vicenzo Righini - (1756-1812)
« on: June 05, 2009, 09:32:48 AM »
Vicenzo Righini

Righini, Vincenzo - (1756-1812)
Aria - 'Ove son Qual'aure io spiro Erifile'
Cantata - ''Il natal d'Apollo'', (Vienna, 1789)

Italian composer and singing teacher. Working associate of Mozart in Vienna. According to Gerber he was trained as a singer in his native city and received instruction in composition from Martini, and according to Fétis he made his début as a tenor in Parma. His first confirmed appearances are in Florence in 1769 and Rome 1770. After joining Bustelli’s opera company in Prague as a singer, he composed three opere buffe and parts of an opera seria, two of which were also produced outside Prague, La vedova scaltra in Brescia, Vienna, Brunswick and Eszterháza, and Il convitato di pietra in Vienna and Eszterháza. By 1777 Righini seems to have moved to Vienna, for on 18 December of that year he appeared as a soloist in a performance for the Tonkünstler-Societät of Salieri’s La passione di Gesù Cristo. He established himself there as a singing teacher, counting among his pupils Maria Theresia Paradis, several apprentice singers from the court opera including Josepha Weber and perhaps Princess Elisabeth von Württemberg. His reputation as a singing teacher followed him to Mainz and later Berlin, where he published the solfeggio exercises that were reprinted throughout Europe. In Vienna Righini received two commissions for private operas, Armida, which was performed by the nobility in Prince Johann Adam Auersperg’s theatre in 1782, and Piramo e Tisbe, which was performed in Prince Alois Liechtenstein’s palace in 1784. Righini also composed two operas for the court theatre, L’incontro inaspettato and Il demogorgone, but neither was successful. He was nonetheless engaged in 1787 to substitute for Salieri as Kapellmeister of the court opera while Salieri was in Paris producing his opera Tarare. Two more works derive from Righini’s Vienna period, the cantatas La sorpresa amorosa and Il natal d’Apollo, the latter written for the Tonkünstler-Societät.

Towards the end of 1787 Righini moved to Mainz, where on 1 July he had been appointed as Kapellmeister to the elector and archbishop Carl Friedrich Joseph von Erthal. Although his duties included composing church music, only the Mass in D minor can be unequivocally traced to this period; it was composed for the election of Emperor Leopold II in Frankfurt on 30 September 1790, and it may have been repeated at the election of Franz II two years later. According to Gottron, in 1788 Righini produced his Armida at Aschaffenburg, replacing those numbers in the Vienna version that had not been written by himself with music of his own composition. Between 1788 and 1790 Righini worked on the azione teatrale Alcide al bivio for the Elector of Trier. The composer wanted to modernize Metastasio’s libretto by incorporating ensembles, but the Elector insisted on his setting the original text, merely shortened in the final scene.

In March 1793 Righini was appointed Kapellmeister to the Prussian court, thereby escaping the difficulties that had arisen for him after the French occupied Mainz the previous October. The appointment followed upon the successful performance of Enea nel Lazio, which had been commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm II. Righini alternated with J.F. Reichardt (who warmly welcomed his appointment), and from 1795 with Reichardt’s successor F.H. Himmel, in conducting the Hofkapelle in performances of serious operas as well as in court concerts. For the court opera he composed four opere serie and a festa teatrale; he also again revised his Armida. In addition, Righini directed the opera buffa company, which performed mainly in Potsdam, until it was disbanded in 1798. Its repertory was drawn from contemporary Italian and Viennese productions. For it Righini revived in 1794 and 1795 the two comic operas he had written for Vienna. Other compositions Righini composed for the court included occasional music for official functions and for the Redouten balls during Carnival, as well as the Te Deum, which was composed to celebrate the return of Friedrich Wilhelm III and his wife Luise from Königsberg in 1809. It was performed on 13 March 1810 in the palace at Berlin by almost 500 singers and instrumentalists. The united forces of court musicians and amateurs from the city’s middle classes lent to this occasion an air of national homage.

Through the numerous songs, ariettas, romances and chamber duets that he began to write in Mainz, and through the arias and ensembles that were widely disseminated in piano reductions, Righini secured himself a place in salon and domestic music. Through his opera music his name was familiar to concert audiences in at least North and Central Germany. After the change of government in 1797, he began a series of concert tours, visiting Hamburg (1798 and 1799), Ludwigslust (1799) and Italy (1804–5 and 1812). Despite the closing of the Berlin court opera in 1807, Righini retained his post of court Kapellmeister. His last opera, La selva incantata, remained in the repertory of the royal drama company, as a ‘romantic-heroic’ opera, until 1816. Memory of Righini faded after 1820, even if a few compositions like the overture to Tigrane, the Mass in D minor and sacred parodies of some operatic excerpts were still occasionally performed.

Righini was mainly an opera composer, moving in the course of his career from opera buffa to opera seria. While little is known about his comic operas, his Berlin operas typify the late Metastasian opera in hybrid Italian-French style that were so much in favour at the Prussian court. The allegiance to Metastasian principles, subscribed to by the court poet Antonio Filistri de' Caramondani, rested on the still accepted view of court opera as representative opera, with its emphasis on ethical models and political allegory. This traditional dramaturgical structure, however, was enriched with elements taken from tragédie lyrique such as action-packed introduzioni, scene complexes and ballets. Through his use of contrasting tempos and sectionalization in arias and ensembles, and through his dramatic use of instrumentation, Righini followed the tendencies towards heightened drama characterizing opera seria of his time. His ability to combine cantabile melody with rich orchestration was admired by his contemporaries as exemplifying the perfect German-Italian hybrid style, whereas by the time of his death the dramaturgy of his operas was considered outmoded. Righini’s sacred music reflects a variety of aesthestic and stylistic trends current about 1800: the Viennese tradition of mass settings (Mass in D minor), the a cappella ideal (Requiem), and the religious, emotionally evocative concert piece (Te Deum). His more than 150 published songs show great variety as well, some of them pointing in the direction of the early Romantic art song.


« Last Edit: June 05, 2009, 09:56:16 AM by robnewman »