Archives for category: Opera (unstaged)

The ever-accumulating appropriation of soprano repertory by Joyce DiDonato continues apace. Tonight, in Handel’s 1735 Alcina, the mezzo sang neither Ruggiero – the opera’s most demanding and extensive role, written for a castrato – nor that of Bradamante – surely the opera’s most beautiful, written for a contralto – but the title role itself, which in the last decade or so I’ve heard sung on stage by Renée Fleming and Anja Harteros. Given that Alice Coote sang Ruggiero, and Christine Rice Bradamante in this performance, the provision of mezzo-soprano voices was surely excessive, and one wonders why we couldn’t have had a genuine soprano Alcina and a counter-tenor Ruggiero to re-balance the higher voiced sonorities, with only a gleaming Anna Christy’s Morgana left to fly the flag for actual sopranos among the principals.

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‘He did it here, he did it here, he did right here!’. Such were Vivaldi’s cries as Goldoni rose to the challenge thrown at him by the composer to rearrange an aria in Zeno’s libretto of Griselda to better suit the talents of Vivaldi’s protégé, Anna Girò. As recorded in Goldoni’s earliest account of meeting the Red Priest, despite receiving a frosty reception from the composer, the young poet impressed Vivaldi enough with this improvised feat to allow him to ‘murder Zeno’s drama’.

Written for the Teatro San Samuele in Venice and first performed in 1735, Zeno’s libretto, adapted by Goldoni, is based on an episode from Boccaccio’s Decameron which tells the story of the sadistic Marquis of Saluzzo who decides to put his wife’s fidelity to the test as his people are unhappy that he’s married a commoner. Somehow I don’t think we’ll get a reality series out of this from our royals. Read the rest of this entry »