Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:
Fanfare Magazine: 42:2 (11-12/2018) 
Pour s'abonner / Subscription information
Les abonnés à Fanfare Magazine ont accès aux archives du magazine sur internet.
Subscribers to Fanfare Magazine have access to the archives of the magazine on the net.



Code-barres / Barcode : 3614978675824

Reviewer: Bertil van Boer

Here we have another entry in the Vivaldi Edition that intends to produce every single work that Antonio Vivaldi wrote, and a few bits that he didn’t. The composer, of course, stretched the truth considerably when commenting upon the number of operas he had written, claiming over 100 works. This number is, of course, highly exaggerated, but even with the couple of dozen we do have, the fact remains that he was actively pursuing opera, especially in Venice where the Carnival season required new and progressive works each year. That it was also quite lucrative was also an incentive—that is, if the opera was a success. Generally, operas were “previewed” during the late autumn, and the advantage of this is that if they were deemed successful, they could proceed to the official premiere in January; if not, it allowed for them to be altered as necessary or withdrawn without much prejudice. For Vivaldi, it was an opportunity he could not pass up, given that his own paramour, Anna Girò, was to make a splash at the Teatro Sant’Angelo during the 1727 season. So, in November of the year prior Vivaldi created a spectacular work to a text by Antonio Lucchini.

The composer was, however, not entirely dedicated to originality here, for despite its initial success with his music, later performances included substitute arias by Johann Adolph Hasse, Geminiano Giacomelli, Leonardo Leo, and Domenico Sarri, all of whom were regarded as the new generation of composers. As a result, what may have been a more copasetic work has survived only in a bowdlerized version that leans towards more of a pasticcio in form. This is not entirely invidious to Vivaldi’s score, since it modernized it to the extent necessary to keep it in the repertory.

As for the plot, it corresponds to the norms of the opera seria; that is, it is quite convoluted with various unexpected twists and turns that make little sense. Tempe, for those not from Arizona, is an Arcadian glen in Thessaly. Dorilla (soprano) loves a shepherd Elmiro (originally castrato), while also being wooed by Nomio (also a castrato), who is Apollo in disguise. King Admeto (tenor) arrives to proclaim that Nomio must confront Python, a dragon that has somehow snuck into the kingdom. Before he can act, however, the oracle decrees that Dorilla must be sacrificed to Python. Eudamia, also in love with Elmiro, tries to take advantage of the situation, but is rebuffed. Meanwhile, Filindo (castrato) consoles Eudamia, who expects him to keep an eye on Elmiro. Promises, promises; the act ends with a scene where Dorilla is chained to a rock, and Nomio slays the dragon. She seems rather ungrateful, for she neglects to express her gratitude, and Nomio goes off in a huff as the people celebrate. This is only the first act, but it is already overloaded with plot twists. The second act has everyone proclaiming their love for the wrong people, but at least it ends with a buffet and a hunt. One can see where this is headed: Elmiro and Dorilla flee the gathering but Nomio catches them in time for Admeto to condemn the first to death. He is tied to a tree, a sort of Greek version of a firing squad, and Dorilla does an Ophelia by throwing herself into a convenient river. As the hunters prepare to kill Elmiro, Nomio reappears with a rescued Dorilla and, revealing his divine nature, puts everything to rights.

Oddly enough, this is one of the easier librettos, though in Vivaldi’s defense he probably meant for it simply to serve as a vehicle for his singers. The sinfonia begins in a flashy Vivaldian style with two very short movements, the second of which is a minuet, but the finale will raise some eyebrows; here we have a movement stolen right out of The Seasons, this time with a chorus that appears out of nowhere. Really, it is quite ingenious as reuse of material in an effective manner. The opening aria of Elmiro is by Hasse, and one hears immediately the galant style, yet it doesn’t seem really out of place with the sinfonia. This makes Dorilla’s first aria a bit anachronistic, even a bit thinner in texture and rhythmic vitality. But in Admeto’s aria “Dall’orrido soggiorno,” where he tells of the appearance of Python, the forceful nature of the dotted rhythms in the accompaniment outlines a chromatically wandering line that is worthy of Handel. The final first-act chorus seems a bit too joyous for the occasion, being a rather jaunty gigue. In Dorilla’s first second-act aria “Come l’onde” Vivaldi seems moving into the galant, with an easy introduction and more restrained coloratura. The second act seems a bit tamer musically, with a certain conventional quality to the succession of arias. What does stand out is a rather lively chorus, “Si beva, si danza,” which trips right along for a brief interlude into the more serious emotions of the arias. The raucous horns conclude the act with some real hunting music, as the people prepare to skewer poor Elmiro. The trilling horns are quite effective in between the text strophes. Eudamia’s “Più non vo’ mirar” is quite gnarly in the melodic line, but there are enough unison scales with the voice and accompaniment and the mood is decidedly agitated.

The performance by I Barocchisti is remarkably stable, given that the recording sessions (2014 and 2017) are separated over several years. The ensemble is quite in tune and conductor Diego Fasolis keeps things lively and focused. The playing is clean and precise. The voices are all equally fine. Sonia Prina’s Eudamia has a fine sense of range, while both Romina Basso and Serena Malfi execute their various roulades with considerable ease. Christian Senn’s Admeto is full of power and passion, though he doesn’t have as much as the others. Only Lucia Cirillo’s Filindo can be a bit grating, as her intonation seems slightly off at times, particularly some of her unison passages, such as in the aria “Arsa da rai.” This, however, is not particularly disturbing, since it is not persistent. Overall, this is a nice opera, even with the modern insertions. Musically it holds together remarkably well, and given the fine performance here it is a welcomed addition that shows that Vivaldi was as fine an opera composer for his time as one could wish.

Sélectionnez votre pays et votre devise en accédant au site de
Presto Classical
(Bouton en haut à droite)

Pour acheter l'album
ou le télécharger

To purchase the CD
or to download it

Choose your country and curency
when reaching
Presto Classical
(Upper right corner of the page)


Cliquez l'un ou l'autre bouton pour découvrir bien d'autres critiques de CD
 Click either button for many other reviews