CIMAROSA (1749-1801) Overtures - Volume 1 Voldomiro (1787) [4:06]
La baronessa Stramba (1786) [6:16]
Le stravaganze del conte (1772) [3:27]
Il matrimonio segreto (1792) (first recording of Vienna version) [6:00]
L’infedeltŕ fedele (1779) [5:26]
Il ritorno di Don Calendrino (1778) [9:11]
Il falegname (1780) [5:22]
Cleopatra (1789) [4:21]
Il convito (1782) [9:12]
La vergine del sole (1788) [5:34]
Il credulo (1786) [4:53]
L’impresario in angustie (1786) [5:18]
Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia/Alessandro
rec. Phoenix Studio, Hungary, 6-9 April 2000. DDD
Programme notes in English and German NAXOS 8.570508 [69:06]
Domenico Cimarosa was
a phenomenally successful composer and probably the most
famous Italian composer of the second half of the eighteenth
century – something else to annoy Salieri, no doubt. Between
1772 and his death he wrote 65 operas, many of which enjoyed
tremendous acclaim during his lifetime. Haydn is known to
have conducted performances of thirteen of them at Eszterháza – several
of them more than once. Both Eugčne Delacroix and Stendhal
compared Cimarosa’s operas very favourably with Mozart’s.
Goethe was also an admirer and in 1797 - not 1791 as the
booklet suggests - introduced L’impresario in angustie to
the court theatre in Weimar. This was in his own specially-prepared
German version with some numbers from Mozart’s Schauspieldirektor (The
Impresario) spliced in.
After the success of his
first commedia per musica, Le stravaganze del conte in
1772 Cimarosa’s fame spread quickly. He became closely associated
with opera houses in Rome, Milan (La Scala), Naples and Venice.
Between December 1787 and the summer of 1791 Cimarosa was maestro
di cappella for Catherine the Great in St. Petersburg.
In this he continued a distinguished line of Italian composers
that had included Manfredini and Galuppi. Upon his return
from Russia he spent two years as Kappellmeister for
Leopold II in Vienna, during which time Cimarosa’s most famous
and enduring opera Il matrimonio segreto was premiered
in February 1792.
Among the reasons for
Cimarosa’s success was his knack for writing witty and entertaining
ensemble numbers in his operas. Liberally scattered among
them are numerous duets, trios, quartets and larger ensemble
pieces. His music is charming, melodically inventive but,
to my ears not nearly in the same league as the composer
from whom Delacroix and Stendhal found it hard to distinguish
Cimarosa’s overtures were
written separately from and have no thematic links to the
operas they were designed to open. Some of Cimarosa’s operas
had several overtures written for them for different productions;
two overtures that opened L’impresario in angustie are
to be found on this disc. Many of the overtures on this CD
are simple four- or five-minute curtain-raisers. I found
some very attractive, such as the lively opening overture
to Voldomiro - apparently only performed once in
Turin in 1787 - L’infedeltŕ fedele, Cleopatra and
the relatively well-known Il matrimonio segreto, all
of which have a lively and appealing Italianate style. Others
are in the by then rather archaic three-section Sinfonia configuration, such
as Le stravaganze del conte, Il ritorno di Don
Calendrino and Il convito, which also served
as an alternative overture for L’impresario in angustie.
Taken as a whole, this
disc is enjoyable, although perhaps not all at one sitting.
I’m not sure how well it would stand up to repeated listening
as, despite Delacroix and Stendhal’s claims, Cimarosa was
no Mozart (or Haydn) and the lack of true substance in these
charming pieces soon becomes apparent. However, it is a worthwhile
collection of music from a period when Mozart didn’t have
it all his own way in the opera house.
This recording was originally
issued on Marco Polo 8.225181 and dates from April 2000.
The Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia plays crisply and keenly,
with a real sense of style, ably directed by Alessandro Amoretti.
The acoustic of the Phoenix Studio in Budapest has a warmth
and depth that suggests a concert hall rather then a studio
and beautifully complements the spirited performances.
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