Cavalli – L’Ormindo (2)

October 29, 2009

So, some six weeks out. I’m considering my options since I try to attend operas prepared. There is much to be said for entering the house in innocence, without knowledge, but there is much too to be said for being aware of the music in order to focus on the staging and choreography and lighting, and in the case of Pinchgut, on the conducting and orchestral colour.

It’s not listed in my Boyden’s Rough Guide to Opera, which lists Giasone and Calisto. But it offers, of course, much by way of clues. Certainly with 1644 we are pre-Lully and English is in civil war; we are post-Monteverdi but not by much. Cavalli was born when Monteverdi was already 35; Cavalli got Ormindo going five years into his tenure with the ocal Venetian Teatro San Cassiano opera company. The form seems to have been highly volatile at the time, but Cavalli was responsible for creating an accessible, repeatable formulia for it.

I’m anticipating something along the lines of Poppea, since it was composed just a year before Ormindo, in Monteverdi’s last year. Forever etched in my memory is be the Opera Australia production of Poppea with the tragic Virtu falling from step to step down the monstrous giant red staircase, and brazen Cupid, and the death of Seneca, the searing final duet. Most of the action in L’Ormindo is likely to be expressed in recitative, since it wasn’t for another five years, in Giasone, that Cavalli clearly separated recit from aria, thereafter the form becoming synonymous with arias with a capital “A”.  Boyden illuminates more connections with Poppea; the opening Sinfonia has been attributed to him.

If it’s a collaboration with Faustini, then I can expect comic and tragic elements, noble lovers caught in complex emotional entanglements, permitting a wide range of emotion. Sounds already liek the Love Triangle publicity!

I’ve long tried to make sense of CD of mine entitled Lamenti Barrocchi Vol.2 with music by Monteverdi, Rossi, Strozzi and the usual suspects. They come across as opaque – like so much early music, it requires live performance or at least a lot of visual cues. Better still to be playing it oneself. These laments prepare me somewhat for the arioso I’m likely to come across in Ormindo, halfway between recit and aria. The Lamenti Barrochi has come in handy since there’s a link between this Naxos recording by Sergio Vartolo and a compilation of Cavalli arias. I should listen more carefully since Bettina Hoffman is on viola da gamba, she of the interesting CD of the complete Ganassi.

So to sum up, I’m looking to a night basically at the theatre (all the clarity of meaning that goes with that) with music supporting text, just at that point in the history of opera when music is about to assert itself (for ever more!) as the dominant partner.

Lamenti Barrochi Vol.2. Sergio Vartolo and the Soloists of the Cappella Muiscale di San Petronio. Naxos, Early Music series, DDD 8.553319.

Matthew Boyden, The Rough Guide to Opera. 4th edition.London: Penguin, 2007.


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