127. Germanico in Germania (Porpora)

Dramma per musica in 3 actsComposer: Nicola PorporaLibretto: Nicola ColuzziFirst performed: Teatro Capricana, Rome, 11 February 1732 Nicola Porpora was a master of writing for the human voice. In his day, he was one of Italy’s foremost singing teachers; his pupils at the Conservatorio di Sant’Onofrio, Naples, included the castrati Farinelli and Caffarelli (who studied … Continue reading 127. Germanico in Germania (Porpora)

126. Catone in Utica (Vinci)

Opera seria in 3 actsComposer: Leonardo VinciLibretto: Pietro MetastasioFirst performed: Teatro Alibert, Rome, 19 January 1728 A Roman triumph!  Decca’s 2015 recording (conductor Riccardo Minasi, with Il Pomo d’Oro) of this Caesarian opera seria has some of the most extraordinary singing I’ve ever heard.  Veni, audivi, Vinci, one might say. Catone in Utica was Leonardo … Continue reading 126. Catone in Utica (Vinci)

A note on Metastasio

The 18th century has been called the age of Metastasio. The Roman poet's 27 libretti were set more than 800 times, and used as late as the 19th century, including by Meyerbeer (Semiramide riconosciuta, 1819) and Mercadante (Didone abbandonata, 1823).  The most famous Metastasian opera today is Mozart’s Clemenza di Tito. Born Pietro Trapassi, 1698–1782; … Continue reading A note on Metastasio

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)