Program: #07-09 Air Date: Feb 19, 2007
After Monteverdi's death in 1543, Francesco Cavalli was recognized, in the words of the librettist and commissioning patron, as "the Greatest Composer in Italy." This week and next we'll hear the great reconstruction of the opera commissioned by Cardinal Giancarlo de Medici for the long-awaited birth of the Spanish Hapsburgs' prince and heir to the throne.
We continue our long and fruitful association with our partners at Radio Netherlands in presenting a series of concerts from the 2006 Holland Festival of Early Music at Utrecht.
We will also direct listeners to their web site, which will provide more in-depth information about the music and performers we hear as well as more information about the festival (www.rnmusic.nl).
For its 25th anniversary, the entire 2006 Festival was dedicated to the early Italian 17th century:
NOTE: All of the music on these two programs was performed by the Ensemble La Sfera Armoniosa and soloists and dancers in a reconstruction of Francesco Cavalli's opera L'Ipermestra. As the program notes:
The birth of Felipe Próspero in 1657, Infante of the Spanish Habsburg court, was the occasion for numerous festivities, not o–nly in Spain, but also in Florence.
Francesco Cavalli, 'Italy’s greatest composer', received an invitation to set to music a libretto by Giovanni Andrea Moniglia telling the story of King Danao who planned the marriage of his daughter Ipermestra to his brother’s son o–nly to order her to kill her new spouse right after the marriage in an attempt to escape an oracle predicting he would loose his throne to a nephew. Ipermestra resisted this infamous proposal and vowed fidelity to Linceo, withstanding threats and incarceration. Linceo then destroyed the city of Argos and defeated Danao, thus preparing the way for a new lineage of countless heroes.
This triumph of courage and loyalty was originally complimented by ballets, lavish costumes, and splendid stage designs. The extravagant performance even included an impressive combattimento, a siege scene calling for fifty soldiers on horseback.
However, it is not this court version, but the later commercial adaptation of the opera that will be revived. Cavalli was seriously involved with this world wide booming business, that gave priority to drama and power of music over displaying mere overwhelming luxury.
In this respect, lIpermestra stands as one of the richest operas of the 17th century: recitatives and short arias, ensembles, choirs, lamenti, ritornelli, and sinfonie merge into a perfect masterpiece. Cavalli proves himself superior in provoking the most tender and pitiable sensations.
Conductor Mike Fentross not only employs an excellent cast of singers but also an ample continuo section to paint this florid array of emotions.
Franceso Cavalli (1602-1767): l'Ipermestra
Libretto: Giovanni Andrea Moniglia (1624-1700)
La Sfera Armoniosa Orchestra / Mike Fentross
Staging: Wim Trompert / Stage design: Eric Goossens
Lighting design: Uri Rapaport / Costume design: Mirjam Pater
Ipermestra: Elena Monti
Elisa: Gaële Le Roi
Linceo: Emanuela Galli
Berenice: Marcel Beekman
Delmiro: Fabian Schofrin
Arbante: Mark Tucker
Danao: Sergio Foresti
Franceso Cavalli (1602-1767), Giovanni Andrea Moniglia (1624-1700)