One of the things that I’ve found most interesting during the course of WDBX Opera Overnight is the chance to get to know some really interesting pieces of music written by composers who, for one reason or another, have become forgotten over time. We’re going to start the evening with such a composer. Johann Adolf Hasse was born in 1699 in Bergedorf, Germany, and he died in 1783 in Vienna. His early works, such as what we’re going to hear tonight, were distinctly baroque, but he also represents a key point in the development of German opera.
Tonight’s recording is a pretty good one, a 2011 Grammy nominee, with Jamie Barton and Ava Pine as soloists. Ars Lyrica Houston is conducted from the harpsichord by Matthew Dirst.
For more info about Hasse, check out my previous blog entry on him. I hate to be repetitive, but Hasse’s story is a truly interesting one, and his music distinctly deserves more attention than what it has received. I for one would love to hear more of his works.
Our second opera of the evening is a work by Claudio Monteverdi. Monteverdi wrote his first full-length operas between 1606 and 1608 while he was in the service of Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga in Mantua. He left Mantua in 1612 to take the position of director of music at St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. But while he wasn’t writing operas, he was still interested in theatrical music, and produced a shorter stage work, Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, for the Venetian Carnival season of 1624-25. However, he did not return to writing full-scale operas until Venice opened its opera house in 1637, one of the first full-sized opera houses in the world. Monteverdi composed L’incoronazione di Poppea in 1642 for the 1642-43 Carnival season, although the exact date of the premiere is unknown. There is some debate as to whether the work was completely authored by Monteverdi, as scholars have identified portions of the work that may have been written by others. Other theories suggest that the work may have been a collaboration that was supervised by Monteverdi. But in any case the work is an important one, one of the early examples of the use of historical context, and one of the first examples of the use of comedy in an opera. It was Monteverdi’s last work, and it is widely considered to be his greatest.
Tonight’s recording is from 2005, and features Arleen Augr, Della Jones, Linda Hurst, Gregory Reinhart, James Bowman, Sarah Leonard, Adrian Thompson, and Catherine Denley. Richard Hickox leads the City Of London Baroque Sinfonia.