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# Opera from the Galant & Classical Era #

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Leo K.:
I have been immersed in 18th Century Opera the last few weeks. There is SO much unknown 18th century opera to explore...and I'm in heaven!

Here are some recordings that are amazing:








(this one was recorded from a radio broadcast, and WOW, what a work!)

kishnevi:
Domenico Cimarosa: I Tre Amanti 
Intermezzo in musica in due parti
first presented Teatro Valle, Rome, Carnival 1777

Violante, a young lady: Basia Retchitzka, soprano
Don Arsenio Scarnicchia, a young man, son of a banker in Palermo, in love with Violante; Carlo Gaifa, tenor
Don Riccardo, a military officer courting Violante: Rodolfo Malacarne, tenor
Il Barone della Nebbia, a nobleman courting Violante: Laerte Malaguti, baritone
Brunetta,  Violante's maid and confidante: Grazia Ferracini, soprano

Orchestra della Radiotelevisione della Svizzera Italiana
Edwin Loehrer, conductor

Recorded in Lugano, Switzerland March-April 1968
CD 1 (Part I) 51:26   CD (Part 2) 37:00
issued by Nouva Era Internazionale (Order No. 23288)


This is a relatively short comic opera, but short and with the barest of plots, it deserves the term intermezzo and not opera buffa. It would probably work very well as a student production. The music is suitably light, but much of it would not be out of place in, say, Cosi fan tutte, and it is all recognizably of its era.  The overture is in several section, rather like the sinfonias which Vivaldi used for his opera introductions.  The plot, such as it is, is simple:  Young lady staying at an inn in Livorno has three suitors, and not really ready to marry.   Her maid is somewhat in love with one of them, Don Riccardo.  The three suitors court her and bicker with each other; she is most attracted to the youngest one, Don Arsenio.  The three men serenade her maid, believing they are serenading Violante, who in the end has the inn's servants chase them away.  That's Part I.  In Part II,  Don Riccardo and the Baron conspire to have Don Arsenio arrested on the charge that he is really a pirate, Captain Bombardo, then offer to have him released if he promises to leave Violante alone.  He has a scena in which he decided he would rather die than give her up.  Violante, disguised,  has the soldiers release him.  Don Riccardo and the Baron, not recognizing her in the disguise, court her, to her disgust.  Don Arsenio, also not recognizing her, does not court her and shows himself faithful.  She admits to herself that she is love with Don Arsenio, and publicly chooses him over Don Riccardo and the Baron.  Don Riccardo accepts Brunetta as his wife (I think), and the Baron is consoled with the idea that he is destined to marry a noblewoman, and the opera therefore ends with everyone happy.  While the liner notes are in English, Italian and German, the libretto in this issue is only in Italian, and therefore I may be wrong about Don Riccardo actually marrying Brunetta, since my Italian is rather weak.

The arias are distributed rather evenly:  Violante and Don Arsenio both have two arias in Part I and one aria in Part II (his aria in Part II is officially labelled "Scena"); the Baron has two arias, one in each Part;  Don Riccardo has one aria in Part I, and Brunetta has one aria in Part II.   Both parts begin with a quartet;  Violante and Don Arsenio have a duet near the end of Part II;  there is a relatively long (fifteen minutes) finale to Part I, which includes the serenades; and a short finale to Part II,  long enough to establish who is and who is not marrying whom and send everyone off satisfied.   The aria are all relatively short;  the two longest are both assigned to Don Arsenio,  being both a little over four minutes long.  Most of them have recognizable sections;  some of them even have full pauses in the middle, suggesting a strophic structure. 

This recording was done in connection with a series of radio broadcasts.   I caught nothing to fault in the orchestra during my initial listen.  The male singers were excellent;  Gaifa's voice is rather similar to that of Juan Diego Flores;  Malacarne is a much lighter tenor, but the role is not particularly difficult and the timbre easily distinguishes him from Gaifa in the ensemble scenes.  The role of the Baron also has no huge hurdles, and Malaguti is pleasant to listen to.   It's the ladies with whom the problems lie in this recording:  both sopranos are rather shrill in the upper register and even sound a little shallow breathed;  Retchitzka in particular suffers from too much vibrato, although this problem lessens after her first aria.  Possibly she needed to warm up before hitting her stride.  Since both she and Ferracini suffer from the shrillness, it is possible that this was a fault of the engineering and not the singers.   I've never heard any of these singers before, so I have no way of knowing.  Other than that, the engineering was well done, with the voices placed at just the right distance and with just enough roominess in the studio to suggest an actual theater--although of course there was no attempt to suggest movement among the characters or any other sort of staging.

Overall, this was a pleasant experience, although the price might be a little high considering the total time is 87:26.  This may be the only recording of this work, so I would recommend it, but suggest you look for a good bargain if you do purchase it. (The Amazon price seems realistic compared to the official retail.)  There is an earlier issue of the same recording that seems to be available only through resellers or as an MP3 download from Amazon.

Gurn Blanston:
Thanks, Jeffrey. I like Cimarosa's instrumental music, it is quite galant and very entertaining for all that. Of course, like most Italians of his time, opera was his specialty, and he was extremely popular (believe he was employed by Catherine the Great for a few years). This might be a good place to pitch in on him for a lightweight opera-goer like myself. :)

8)

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Now playing:
Camerata Amsterdam \ Jeroen Weierink - Myslivecek Concerto in C for Cello 3rd mvmt - Tempo di Menuetto

kishnevi:

--- Quote from: Gurnatron5500 on July 08, 2011, 05:16:32 PM ---Thanks, Jeffrey. I like Cimarosa's instrumental music, it is quite galant and very entertaining for all that. Of course, like most Italians of his time, opera was his specialty, and he was extremely popular (believe he was employed by Catherine the Great for a few years). This might be a good place to pitch in on him for a lightweight opera-goer like myself. :)

--- End quote ---

Apparently this conductor specialized in Italian music from 1600 to 1800, both with RSI and with an organization called Lugano Chamber Society.  Amazon lists a few of them as being available on CD.  Of course, I have no idea how good these others might be, but it might be worth exploring. 

Leo K.:
Thanks Jeffery for your overview of that opera by Cimarosa. I have four of his operas in my collection and only know one of them so far.

I am listening to a lot of out-of-the-way 18th Century opera lately, and my latest aquisition is quite ravishing! The melodies are subtle but beautiful, with thoughtful orchestration including windwood writing that takes the breath away.




This opera is very much influenced by Mozart's late operas, not surprising considering that composer Johann Rudolph Zumsteeg championed Mozart's operas in Stuggart, according to the wiki:


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Johann Rudolf Zumsteeg (born in Sachsenflur, Lauda-Königshofen 10 January 1760 – died in Stuttgart 27 January 1802) was a German composer and conductor.

Zumsteeg championed the operas of Mozart in Stuttgart, staging the first performances there of Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan tutte. He also was a prolific composer of lieder and ballads. His ballads had a great influence on the young Franz Schubert, who imitated a number of Zumsteeg's as studies (some even in exactly the same keys) while he was a teenager.

Zumsteeg's received his early education at the Carlschule in Stuttgart. There Zumsteeg became intimate friends with Friedrich Schiller. A setting for Schiller's drama, Die Räuber, 1782, is an example of the type of close collaboration that Zumsteeg undertook with prominent poets.

Perhaps the most well-known of Zumsteeg's compositions are the seven volumes of Kleine Lieder und Balladen published by Breitkopf & Härtel between 1800 and 1805. These were highly popular in Germany, remaining well-known until the 1830s.

In 1783, Zumsteeg married Luise Andreae with whom he had seven children. During most of his career, Zumsteeg was closely connected to the Swabian court, and in 1791 he was appointed court director of music to fill the vacancy left by C. F. D. Schubart's death. In this capacity, Zumsteeg championed the works of German composers, countering the dominant Italian influence at the court. The last important post he held before his death in 1802 was that of court Konzertmeister.
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