53. Il giuramento (Saverio Mercadante)

Melodramma in 3 acts Composer: Saverio Mercadante Libretto: Gaetano Rossi, after Victor Hugo’s Angélo, tyran de Padoue First performed: Teatro alla Scala, Milan, 11 March 1837 Dossier   For lovers of Italian opera, Mercadante is the great neglected composer.  His reform operas are the missing link between bel canto and Verdi, and, for half a decade, made him Italy's maestro-in-chief.  … Continue reading 53. Il giuramento (Saverio Mercadante)

52. Le magnifique (André Ernest Modeste Grétry)

Comédie in 3 acts, in prose Music: André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry Libretto: Michel-Jean Sedaine First performed: Opéra-Comique (Hôtel de Bourgogne), Paris, 4 March 1773 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPS8Gdzemfc&t=5s&w=640&h=385 Have you an hour to spare?  You could do worse than listen to Grétry's charming Magnifique. In his day, the Liégeois musician was the most performed Francophone composer in the world.  Today, Grétry is seldom played; … Continue reading 52. Le magnifique (André Ernest Modeste Grétry)

51. Il turco in Italia (Gioachino Rossini)

Dramma buffo in 2 acts By Gioachino Rossini Libretto: Felice Romani, after Caterino Mazzolà’s libretto for Franz Joseph Seydelmann’s opera (1788) First performed: Teatro alla Scala, Milan, 14 August 1814 Dossier Today, Il turco in Italia is one of the most commonly performed Rossini operas. - well below The Barber of Seville or La Cenerentola, perhaps, but respectably frequent. Its … Continue reading 51. Il turco in Italia (Gioachino Rossini)

50. Ariadne auf Naxos (Richard Strauss)

Opera in 1 act By Richard Strauss Libretto: Hugo von Hofmannsthal First performed: Hoftheater Stuttgart, 25 October 1912, as a 30-minute accompaniment to Molière’s Le Bourgeois gentilhomme.  Revised version: Vienna State Opera, 4 October 1916. "The thirty-minute opera for small chamber orchestra ... is as good as complete in my head," Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Viennese playwright and … Continue reading 50. Ariadne auf Naxos (Richard Strauss)

49. La vestale (Gaspare Spontini)

Tragédie lyrique in 3 acts Composer: Gaspare Spontini Libretto: Étienne de Jouy First performed: Théâtre de l’Opéra (Salle Montansier), Paris, 15 December 1807, conducted by Jean-Baptiste Rey Dossier https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mdw-ExEU2g&w=640&h=385 "M. Spontini," declared Napoleon, "your opera will obtain a great success; it deserves it.  Your opera abounds in new motifs; the declamation is true, and agrees with … Continue reading 49. La vestale (Gaspare Spontini)

48. Мазепа (Mazeppa) (Tchaikovsky)

  Opera in 3 acts Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Libretto: Victor Burenin, after Pushkin’s poem Poltava First performed: Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, 15 February [OS 3 February] 1884, conducted by Ippolit Al’tani Dossier Tchaikovsky's two best-known operas are his naturalistic works, Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades, both based on Pushkin.  To my mind, though, his historical operas are more … Continue reading 48. Мазепа (Mazeppa) (Tchaikovsky)

47. La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (Jacques Offenbach)

Opéra bouffe in 3 acts and 4 tableaux Music: Jacques Offenbach Libretto: Henri Meilhac & Ludovic Halévy First performed: Théâtre des Variétés, Paris, 12 April 1887 Dossier “C’est tout-à-fait ça," said Bismarck, after seeing Offenbach’s satire of war and petty German princedoms. Offenbach and his librettists Meilhac and Halévy skewer the military mind, court protocol, favoritism, corruption, … Continue reading 47. La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (Jacques Offenbach)