Calisto: Francesco Cavalli (1651)

Lucy Crowe

★★★★

(La Nuova Musica at Wigmore Hall, 28 November 2016)

Calistos are like London buses: you wait for months and then two come along at once. Mere weeks after English Touring Opera’s vivacious production, David Bates and La Nuova Musica presented their own version of Cavalli’s tale of lust, disguise and confusion. Conceived as a semi-staged performance, to make maximum use of the Wigmore’s limited space, this Calisto boasted a cast to die for and delivered some great voices; yet it didn’t eclipse ETO quite as thoroughly as I’d expected.

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Classical Opera: La Cantarina (1766)

Rachel Kelly

Haydn: Symphony No. 34 in D Minor · Mysliveček: Arias from Semiramide · Haydn: La Canterina

(Classical Opera, directed by Ian Page, Wigmore Hall, 19 September 2016)

I deliberated long and hard about whether to rate this or not. After all, I don’t rate recitals but I do rate operas. Which was this? In the end, I decided that I would treat it as a recital, because the opera element was only one of three different sections. Plus, that saved me the trouble of having to think of a rating, so everyone’s a winner. But, had I rated it, it would have been very much a thumbs-up. This evening at the Wigmore was another stage in Classical Opera’s Mozart 250 project and introduced us to a variety of interesting works written in 1766, all performed with great elan by the orchestra and a quartet of admirable singers under the baton of Ian Page.

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Il Vologeso: Niccolò Jommelli (1766)

Vologases IV of Parthia

★★★

(Classical Opera, at Cadogan Hall, 28 April 2016)

Another rummage in the drafts folder has unearthed several music posts which are now well out of date, but I would still like to publish them for my own records. Please indulge me! Let’s start with an opera, which I saw in a concert version at the end of April. This was part of Classical Opera’s Mozart 250 project, which was inaugurated by last year’s Adriano in Siria by J.C. Bach.

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Ormindo: Francesco Cavalli (1644)

Cavalli: Ormindo

★★★★★

(Royal Opera House at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, February-March 2015)

In writing about Cavalli’s Ormindo, it’s hard not to feel that everything has already been said. (But I’m going to say it again anyway.) This production made its immensely successful debut in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse last year, blending the musical expertise of the Royal Opera House with the theatrical immediacy of the Globe. It is, quite simply, a match made in heaven: Cavalli’s operas, which predate the swaggering show-off arias of the high Baroque, feel like exuberant plays that just happen to be set to music. Naturally there’s nowhere in London more skilled at bringing such things to life than the Globe.

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Orfeo: Claudio Monteverdi (1607)

★★★★

(Royal Opera House in collaboration with the Roundhouse, January 2014)

In 1607 Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, came up with a rather original way to celebrate Carnival at his court. It was inspired by something he’d seen in Florence a few years earlier in 1600, when he’d been a guest at the wedding of Maria de’ Medici and Henry IV of France. He’d been deeply impressed by the main entertainment offered at the festivities: a new kind of play, set to music by Jacopo Peri and Giulio Caccini (who’d already produced a similar work called Dafne in 1597).

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