Antonio CALDARA(c.1671 - 1736) Caldara in Vienna - Forgotten castrato arias L'Olimpiade (1733):
Lo seguitai felice [4:17] Demofoonte (1733):
Misero pargoletto [8:16] La clemenza di Tito (1734):
Numi assistenza - Opprimete i contumaci, rec and aria [5:21] L'Olimpiade (1733):
Mentre dormi amor fomenti [5:27] Temistocle (1736):
Non tremar, vassallo indegno [3:26] La clemenza di Tito (1734):
Se mai senti spirarti sul volto [8:55] Scipione nelle Spagne (1722):
O mi rendi il bel ch'io spero [2:32] Ifigenia in Aulide (1718):
Tutto fa nocchiero esperto [7:28] Adriano in Siria (1732):
Tutti nemici e rei [4:50] Lucio Papirio dittarore (1719):
Son io Fabio? - Troppo e insoffribile fiero martir, rec and aria
[6:39] Temistocle (1736):
Contrasto assai più degno [2:51] Enone (1730):
Vado, o sposa [5:40] Achille in Sciro (1736):
Se un core annodi, aria and chorus* [1:56]
Philippe Jaroussky (alto)
Vocanima Köln (*), Concerto Köln/Emmanuelle Haïm
rec. 12-19 July 2010, Paterskirche, Kempen, Germany. DDD VIRGIN CLASSICS 6488102 [68:08]
There is much talk about social networks being a feature of
modern society. But there is hardly anything new about that.
It is a phenomenon which was also of high importance in the
17th and 18th centuries, when musicians were constantly looking
for jobs. The Italian composer Antonio Caldara's biography bears
witness to that as we shall see.
Not much is known about his early years, but he seems to have
been born in Venice and probably received his first music lessons
from his father. He learned to play the viola da spallo
- today mostly replaced by the cello - and entered the orchestra
of the San Marco, but made a career as a composer of vocal music,
in particular operas. His first compositions in this genre as
well as some oratorios were performed in Venice.
He then went to Mantua, where he was appointed maestro di
cappella da chiesa e del teatro. The Duke of Mantua was
an ardent lover of opera and was willing to spend a lot of money
on opera productions. When he was financially ruined after the
War of the Spanish Succession Caldara moved to Rome where he
acted as maestro di cappella of Prince Ruspoli from 1709
to 1716. But he had set his eyes on a position at the Imperial
Court in Vienna.
In the liner-notes of this disc Frédéric Delaméa
describes at length the splendour and the rich musical culture
at the Court. It is no wonder many composers hoped to work there
one day. Caldara persistently tried to find a way to be appointed
to some position at the Court. The first contacts with the later
Emperor Charles VI date from the time he spent in Barcelona,
where Charles - then still Archduke Charles III - married Elisabeth
Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Later Caldara went
to Milan in an attempt to meet Charles again, who was on his
way to Frankfurt to be crowned Emperor as successor to his brother
Joseph I. Whether this led to anything isn't clear. Then Caldara
travelled to Vienna, but when he arrived the positions he had
set his eyes on were already assigned. In the next years he
repeatedly applied for jobs at Court, but was mostly too late
- not surprising in a time of slow communication.
In the meantime he dedicated several compositions to the Emperor
and his wife, and there is no doubt that Charles had a strong
liking for Caldara's music. In the end Caldara's persistence
paid off. In 1716 he left Rome for Vienna, where he would take
up the position of vice Kapellmeister under Johann Joseph
Fux and first Court composer. In this capacity he was responsible
for the composition of operas and other vocal works, not only
for regular performances at the Hoftheater, but also
at special occasions like birthdays and namedays of the Emperor
and Empress. Charles VI was an ardent lover of music, as his
predecessors had been, and that had resulted in a musical infrastructure
which was second to none in Europe.
Caldara could rely on one of Europe's main librettists, Apostolo
Zeno, who would later be succeeded by the famous Pietro Metastasio.
He also had some of the best singers in Europe at his disposal.
A number of major roles in his early compositions in Vienna
were taken by the castratoGaetano Orsini whose voice
was described by Charles Burney as powerful and affecting. Later
on Caldara wrote important parts in his operas for another castrato,
Felice Salimbeni, who was a pupil of Niccolo Porpora and was
to become one of the most celebrated singers of his time. Occasionally
other singers whose names figure prominently in music history
books were also participating in performances in Vienna. These
included the castrato Farinelli and the soprano Faustina Bordoni
who in 1730 married another famous opera composer, Johann Adolf
This disc offers arias from operas which were written at several
stages of Caldara's career in Vienna. Ifigenia in Aulide
dates from 1718 and was Caldara's second opera in Vienna. The
aria 'Tutto fa nocchiero esperto' has a solo part for the violin
and contains some very long melismas which, according to historical
accounts, castratos were able to sing in the same breath. The
part of Teucros for whom this aria was written, was very likely
realised by Gaetano Orsini. Temistocle dates from Caldara's
last year. It was first performed in October and revived in
December, only a couple of weeks before his death on 27 December.
The two brilliant arias recorded here were assigned to Xerxes,
a role sung by Felice Salimbeni. The programme shows great variety:
there are some intimate arias, for instance the beautiful sleep
aria 'Mentre dormi amor fomenti' from L'Olimpiade, in
which the strings are joined by two recorders. From Adriano
in Siria comes the rage aria 'Tutti nemici e rei'. All these
arias are highly expressive in their own way, but some really
stand out, like 'Vado, o sposa' from Enone, and 'Se mai
senti spirarti sul volto' from Le clemenza di Tito. These
more lyrical arias suit Philippe Jaroussky best. The rage arias
are just a little less convincing, because Jaroussky's voice
lacks sharp edges, in particular in low notes. On the other
hand, in 'Tutti nemici e rei' he shows his dramatic instinct
by keeping his rage in check in the A part and subtly turning
it up a notch in the dacapo.
The combination of Philippe Jaroussky and Concerto Köln
under the direction of Emmanuelle Haïm is a happy one.
The singing is a pure delight, and Concerto Köln fully
explores the instrumental scores which are remarkable for their
depth and density. Charles VI had a strong liking for counterpoint,
and in his operas Caldara successfully mixed Italian and German
elements. There is just one point of criticism which relates
to the performance of the aria 'Mentre dormi amor fomenti'.
Here the recorders mostly play colla parte with the strings.
In the dacapo Ms Haïm makes the strings play pizzicato,
which turns the recorders into solo instruments. That seems
contrary to Caldara's intentions.
In his personal note in the booklet Philippe Jaroussky writes
that "I hope that the modest selection of arias assembled here
will provide you with a glimpse into the art of this great master".
That mission has certainly been accomplished.
Johan van Veen
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