124. Orlando furioso (Vivaldi)

Dramma per musico in 3 actsComposer: Antonio VivaldiLibretto: Grazio Braccioli, after Ariosto's Orlando FuriosoFirst performed: Teatro Sant'Angelo, Venice, autumn 1727 Vivaldi, like his wicked sorceress Alcina, enchants the senses, then lures us into a queasily erotic nightmare of the sort we associate more with Richard Strauss than opera seria. Gustave Doré's depiction of Alcina The … Continue reading 124. Orlando furioso (Vivaldi)

120. L’incoronazione di Dario (Vivaldi)

Dramma per musica in 3 acts Composer: Antonio Vivaldi Libretto: Adriano Morselli First performed: Teatro Sant'Angelo, Venice, 23 January 1717 A simple word association test: Vivaldi ... Anyone not think of the Four Seasons? Vivaldi was, though, more than just an instrumental composer; he was a priest (his severe asthma forced him to leave the … Continue reading 120. L’incoronazione di Dario (Vivaldi)

118. Agrippina (Handel)

Opera seria in 3 acts Composer: George Frideric Handel Libretto: Cardinal Vincenzo Grimani First performed: Teatro San Giovanni Grisostomo, Venice, 26 December 1709 For many people, Handel is Baroque opera: musical and scenic spectaculars based on classical myth, medieval romance, or history, with castrati singing elaborate, highly ornamented da capo (A-B-A) arias. Haydn hailed him … Continue reading 118. Agrippina (Handel)

104. L’incoronazione di Poppea (Monteverdi)

Composer: Claudio Monteverdi Libretto: Giovanni Francesco Busenello First performed: Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, 1643 carnival season Nero was the first historical figure to appear in an opera.  He would probably have been delighted. He was, after all, an opera singer himself. Good emperors were deified after their deaths, but Nero was less divus than … Continue reading 104. L’incoronazione di Poppea (Monteverdi)

103. Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Monteverdi)

Composer: Claudio Monteverdi Libretto: Giacomo Baodaro First performed: Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, 1639–1640 Carnival season Il ritorno d'Ulisse is rather like a Shakespearean Romance: a part-melancholic, part-comic story of gods, castaways, shipwrecks, transformations, perilous voyages, and disguises, which ends, after many years, with a family reunited. Based on Homer’s Odyssey, the opera tells of the hero’s … Continue reading 103. Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Monteverdi)

102. Euridice (Jacopo Peri)

Composer: Jacopo Peri Libretto: Ottavio Rinuccini, after Ovid's Metamorphoses First performed: Palazzo Pitti, Florence, 6 October 1600 "THE FIRST EVER OPERA," shouts the Authentic Arts CD. Catchy advertising, but inaccurate; same composer, though. Peri's Dafne (1594, now lost) is considered the first true opera. Euridice is merely (!) the oldest surviving opera. Listening to it, … Continue reading 102. Euridice (Jacopo Peri)

94. Simon Boccanegra (Giuseppe Verdi)

Opera in a prologue and three acts Composer: Giuseppe Verdi Libretto: Francesco Maria Piave, with additions by Giuseppe Montanelli, after Antonio García Gutiérrez's play Simón Bocanegra First performed: Teatro la Fenice, Venice, 12 March 1857 Revised version: Teatro alla Scala, Milan, 24 March 1881, with additions and alterations by Arrigo Boito "I've had a fiasco in … Continue reading 94. Simon Boccanegra (Giuseppe Verdi)