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Vivaldi's late operas

Donald Macleod delves into Antonio Vivaldi's late works for the stage, where he started to write showcase arias full of vocal pyrotechnics to bedazzle the listener.

Donald Macleod delves into Antonio Vivaldi's late works for the stage

As part of the BBC's opera season, Composer of the Week takes a look behind the curtain and onto the stage exploring the world of Antonio Vivaldi's operas. Vivaldi was one of the most original and influential Italian composers of his generation, and his music travelled far past the boundaries of his native Italy. He was considered an innovator in the art of violin technique and concerto writing, and yet he said himself that during his career he wrote nearly one hundred operas in total, though few have survived today. Vivaldi not only composed for the stage and performed in theatre orchestras, but he also became something of an impresario managing many aspects of opera productions. This week Donald Macleod is joined by Professor Eric Cross to lift the veil on this lesser known operatic side of the creator of the famed Four Seasons, Antonio Vivaldi.

Vivaldi had become aware that his final stage works were competing with new trends in the world of opera. In a bid to combat this he turned to popular librettos by Metastasio and Zeno. Vivaldi also started to write showcase arias full of vocal pyrotechnics to bedazzle the listener, whilst playing to the strengths of the soloist. Examples of these virtuosic arias are included in Griselda from 1735, or from two years later, Catone in Utica. Despite these canny moves, Vivaldi's status as an opera composer was in decline. For many years he was frustrated in his attempts to stage an opera in Ferrara. There were even personal intrigues, leading to a ban placed upon Vivaldi's music in Ferrara, by the Papacy there. Towards the end of Vivaldi's life, he was still active in the world of the theatre, but turned from composing operas to becoming more of an opera arranger.

Scocca dardi l'altero tuo ciglio (Griselda)
Ottone .... Simone Kermes (soprano)
Ensemble Matheus
Jean-Christophe Spinosi, director

Griselda, RV718 (Act 2, sc 11-14)
Constanza .... Verónica Cangemi (soprano)
Ottone .... Simone Kermes (soprano)
Griselda .... Marie-Nicole Lemieux (contralto)
Gualtiero .... Stefano Ferrari (tenor)
Ensemble Matheus
Jean-Christophe Spinosi, director

Catone in Utica, RV705 (Act 2, sc 12-14)
Arbace .... Emőke Baráth (soprano)
Emilia .... Ann Hallenberg (mezzo-soprano)
Marzia .... Sonia Prina (contralto)
Il Complesso Barocco
Alan Curtis, director

Concerto in D major for violin, 2 oboes, 2 horns and timpani, RV562A
Adrian Chandler, violin
La Serenissima
Adrian Chandler, conductor

Producer Luke Whitlock.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Antonio Vivaldi

    Griselda Rv.718 - Scocca dardi l'altero tuo ciglio

    Ensemble: Ensemble Matheus. Conductor: Jean‐Christophe Spinosi. Singer: Simone Kermes.
    • NAIVE : OP-30419.
    • NAIVE.
    • 20.
  • Antonio Vivaldi

    Griselda Rv.718 - Act II Scenes 11-14

    Singer: Marie‐Nicole Lemieux. Singer: Stefano Ferrari. Singer: Veronica Cangemi. Ensemble: Ensemble Matheus. Conductor: Jean‐Christophe Spinosi.
    • Naïve: OP30419.
    • Naïve.
    • 24.
  • Antonio Vivaldi

    Il Catone In Utica Rv.705 - Catone in Utica

    Singer: Roberta Mameli. Singer: Sonia Prina. Singer: Topi Lehtipuu. Singer: Ann Hallenberg. Singer: Emőke Baráth. Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco. Director: Alan Curtis.
    • NAIVE : OP-30545.
    • NAIVE.
    • 8.
  • Antonio Vivaldi

    Concerto in D major for violin, 2 oboes, 2 horns and timpani, RV562A

    Ensemble: La Serenissima. Director: Adrian Chandler.
    • AVIE : AV-2154.
    • AVIE.
    • 18.

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