With Erimante, Erismena, Orimeno and Aldimira all on the bill, making headway through the synopsis of Cavalli 's opera Erismena was like wading through treacle.
Cavalli: La Calisto (vocal score) – Online sheet music shop of Editio Musica Budapest
Cavalli was arguably the most important figure in late 17th-century Venetian opera and Erismena , to a libretto by Aurelio Aureli, was very popular in its day. Indeed, it became the first full length opera to be translated into English, although there is no evidence it was actually performed in Britain at that time. A potted plot is tricky to describe in a single paragraph, but you need to know that the title character is an Armenian princess disguised as a wounded soldier, who — as fate would have it — turns out to be the long-lost daughter of tyrannical king Erimante. The king, however, has already had a premonition in a dream that Erismena would try to usurp him, so has the warrior imprisoned and orders him to be poisoned.
Crossed purposes and — this being baroque opera — cross-dressing abound yes, there's a tenor nurse until a series of revelations results in an improbably happy ending.
The sensuality of Cavalli's score is apparent from the saucy cornetto melody in the brief sinfonia. Everything in Erismena is brief — apart from the length of the opera itself: there are no real arias, but a series of ariosos or recitativo accompagnato which appear to be going somewhere, but evaporate into thin air or morph into something else.
Welding Acts 1 and 2 together led to a lengthy first half which tested concentration and patience, especially as the wordy libretto coming thick and fast meant necks were craned up to the surtitles for much of the time. Bellorini's modern dress production is economical, taking place without anything to mask the stage's workings other than two towers with doors at the top and a huge square frame of metal fencing whose noisy hydraulics negated the benefits of creating platform or prison when lowered and angled. Young bass-baritone Alexander Miminoshvili didn't always convince as the irascible king, but the cast boasted a trio of countertenors, each of very different timbre.
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By Mark Pullinger , 08 July Francesca Aspromonte Erismena. See full listing. Cavalli , Erismena.
Jean Bellorini , Director, Lighting Designer. Alexander Miminoshvili , Erimante. Francesca Aspromonte , Erismena.
The Box, designed to look like a small-scale 19th-century vaudeville palace, can accommodate people. For this production a stage platform is extended into the room to create a T-shaped performance space, which cuts the capacity to including standees in the bar area.
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Some patrons sit on either side of the narrow stage extension, which provides up-close intimacy with the singers, who stride across and writhe atop the platform. During one foot-stomping outburst, Mr.
Ainslie portrays the character. This is a man who loves women so intensely that he almost wants to be one. He decides he must marry the sensual Eritea, who is pledged to Giuliano, the prefect of the Praetorian guards. But Eliogabalo even more intensely wants the winsome Flavia Gemmira, who is betrothed to his cousin the noble Alessandro. The singers, wearing playful costumes out of some glam fantasy designed by Mattie Ullrich , seemed inspired by the piece and the production. Emily Grace Righter brings a rich mezzo-soprano voice and charming nobility to the male role of Alessandro.
The dusky-toned soprano Susannah Biller as Eritea and the clarion countertenor Randall Scotting as Giuliano are also excellent.
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