Saturday, November 28, 2015

CAVALLI Heroines of the Venetian Baroque

“Flores's softer languid singing aptly conveys a nymph's erotic longing for the return of her lover Jupiter…[Isifile's lament] is sequenced next to a vividly dramatic account of her rival Medea's incantation scene - the latter sung ardently by mezzo-soprano Anna Reinhold” --Gramophone Magazine, November 2015

The opening of Venice’s first opera house, the Teatro di San Cassiano, in 1637, was one of the major events in the history of opera. The protagonists of these new operas henceforth represented all the social categories making up this public and who, in fact, had to be able to find themselves onstage.

The gods were no longer the only ones to lay down the law, challenged by the Vices and Virtues who preached in the Prologues. The new heroes are kings, emperors, dictators, courtesans, as well as nurses, valets, soldiers, philosopher, and, above all, lovers. Whoever they might be, we find them sympathetic or antipathetic; all are glorified, all are ridiculed.

With his 27 existing operas, Francesco Cavalli gives us a fascinating version of this theatre of life. A single main thread runs through the excerpts drawn from each of them by Leonardo García Alarcón: the expression of human passions. They are all there, from ingenuousness to ecstasy, joy to anger, passionate love (and its erotic, sensual expression) to despair. This fascinating programme represents a new contribution to the knowledge of Cavalli’s operas and allows for unveiling part of the mystery still surrounding his works.

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