Opera Album Overview: A 1st-Price Environment-Premiere Recording of a Short Baroque Opera about the Young Aeneas

By Ralph P. Locke I don’t remember encountering a the latest Baroque recording that is…

By Ralph P. Locke

I don’t remember encountering a the latest Baroque recording that is sung with such a great equilibrium of smoothness and character.

Johann Adolph Hasse: Enea in Caonia

Carmela Remigio (Ilia), Francesca Ascioti (Enea), Rafaella Lupinacci (Andromaca), Paola Valentina Molinari (Eleno), Celso Albelo (Niso).

Enea Barock Orchestra, cond. Stefano Montanari.

CPO 555334 [2 CDs] 104 minutes.

Simply click here to invest in.

This entire world-premiere recording of a brief opera from 1727 by Johann Adolf Hasse (1699-1783), a in the vicinity of-up to date of Bach (but better acknowledged and paid), appears to be at first to have been set alongside one another for the function of allowing us hear this a person very long-neglected get the job done by Hasse. The alto Francesca Ascioti, who sings the title function of Enea (Aeneas), is mentioned as “project manager,” and the Enea Barock Orchestra bears the very same title as very well.

But the booklet indicates that this newly founded orchestra (which involves musicians from numerous nations around the world and is headquartered in Rome) will continue on to check out other Baroque-era functions that in some way cross the mountainous boundaries that individual Italy from lands to the north. The initiative seems beneficial, presented the extensive cultural cross-influences in between the Italian peninsula and the German-speaking lands (to which they could moderately increase the French- and Flemish/Dutch-talking kinds as very well). Hasse is a purely natural aim: initially from Bavaria, he designed his early vocation in Italy — exactly where he composed the work listened to right here — and then introduced Italian-type opera and church songs north to Dresden (in Saxony).

I was inclined to like the recording the instant I found that it associated Ascioti, a marvelously intelligent alto, whose singing I identified at as soon as wonderful and extraordinary in a Cesti opera (see my overview), and mainly because I was so taken with the two Hasse operas that I materialize to know: Attilio Regolo and the one particular opera of his that is rather familiar now, Cleofide. As well as some very good arias that he wrote for Il Tigrane, to be sung by “the Other Cleopatra”: princess of Pontus and foreseeable future queen of Armenia. (See my evaluate of Isabel Bayrakdarian’s recent and wonderfully poised recording of Cleopatra’s arias from operas by Hasse, Vivaldi, and Gluck.)

I was not disappointed. The plot is simple but intriguing for any one who appreciates a little bit of Roman background. Right here we reencounter Aeneas and Andromache, but in an episode from before Aeneas’s arrival in Carthage, so there is no Dido. In its place, we are between the Chaonians in Epirus (a area in northeastern Greece that right now laps in excess of into southern Albania).

Andromache has married the younger king Helenus (Eleno), and the two of them close up encouraging Aeneas to keep on on his gods-ordained path (which, we know, will outcome in the founding of Rome on the Tiber). Some depth is additional by Andromache’s continuing sorrow about her late husband Hector and some stress, by the infatuation of King Nisus of Chaonia — Niso, a former wartime buddy of Aeneas — with Ilia, “a humble Trojan huntress who dwells in the woods of Chaonia” and who at last rejects Niso in buy to remain cost-free.

From the opening sinfonia and Enea’s first aria to the brief closing refrain (which right here suggests “number sung by all the solo singers together”), the rating brings delight after delight. Although the get the job done is of program mainly a series of da capo arias, Hasse often lends specificity to a variety through intriguing string figurations or some other instrumental colour. A pair of horns in the 1st aria sung by Niso indicates to the alert listener that Niso is a hunter, a reality that Enea confirms in recitative before long thereafter. A 2nd sinfonia (borrowed from a diverse Hasse opera, and practically seven minutes lengthy) opens Act 2 and brings tons of incisive entries for the oboes and energetic (but effectively-managed) scurrying and slashing in the strings.

Enea in Caonia is an illustration of a serenata: an opera meant, typically, for functionality at a personal palace — these as to honor a marriage or christening — and thus on the short side and necessitating few singers and small staging. Hasse composed it fairly early in his career, maybe on the situation of a joint check out to Naples (which was then below Austrian rule) by Violante Beatrice, daughter of the elector of Bavaria, and her nephew Clemens August, the elector of Cologne.

In this scenario, we have five people, two woman (Ilia and Andromaca) and 3 male. But prominent male roles in Italian operas in people times have been frequently assigned to castrati (or often to feminine singers). This kind of roles are presently assigned either to a woman singer, a countertenor, or (ordinarily the worst answer) a baritone singing the section an octave way too minimal. In the current recording, only Niso, a tenor instead than castrato role, is sung by a male. Set in a different way, if you appreciate Baroque music but simply cannot abide countertenors (and I know some music lovers who cannot), this recording is just proper for you.

I should really point out two wonderfully creamy sopranos: Carmela Remigio, whom I experienced found with fantastic satisfaction in Donizetti’s Il Castello di Kenilworth (Sept/Oct 2019), and Paola Valentina Molinari, as the youthful king of Epirus, Helenus (Eleno). Molinari will get to sing the work’s a person accompanied recitative, in which Helenus — who, as in Virgil’s Aeneid is a variety of seer — foretells Aeneas’s future struggles and his victorious founding of Rome, on the Tiber. (This is CD 2, monitor 20. All the tracks quantities in the libretto are much too low by just one for CD2, because someone forgot to selection the inserted sinfonia that commences the act off.)

Soprano Carmela Remigio in the CPO recording session for Enea in Caonia.

I do not recall encountering a current Baroque recording that is sung with such a great balance of smoothness and character. (The only disappointment comes from the one male singer, Celso Albelo, whose breath is not often entirely supported.) Just hear to the way that alto Ascioti, in Enea’s very first aria, breaks up some of Hasse’s florid traces into joyously unconnected notes, suggesting laughter. Or how Andromaca (“mezzo-soprano” Lupinacci, who seems like an alto to me) provides vent to her sorrow about the dying of her beloved Hector in her very first aria. The booklet credits Vivica Genaux (one of my beloved singers) with having coached the solid customers.

(The overall recording can be read, in independent tracks, on YouTube — or, at minimum for the second, as a solitary extensive file — and, effortlessly joined, on Spotify and other streaming internet sites. The commencing of every single monitor can be read right here.)

It surely will help that most of the singers are indigenous Italian-speakers. This reinforces a issue that I have created in a number of my the latest reviews for the Arts Fuse about how significantly more communicative singers are in a language they converse fluently. And this can be genuine even when the work is sung in translation, which is not the circumstance here, but is in an instance I have drawn interest to here: the very first-at any time recording of the German edition of Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s I quatro rusteghi (Die vier Grobiane), sung pretty much fully by native German-speakers.

The recording was built in the Villa Torlonia in Rome in September 2019. I hope that, as the pandemic recedes, the Enea Barock Orchestra (a identify mixing Italian and German text in German phrase-buy!) will resume its intended task of bringing forth a lot more operates of the period that crossed the borders amongst Italy and its northern neighbors. This Hasse release augurs perfectly for their accomplishment.

Great booklet, with an essay by Hasse authority Raffaele Mellace and the complete libretto, all nicely translated. But a observe record ought to certainly name the character singing, not the singer. It puts a stumbling block in the route of the reader trying to flip quickly amongst monitor list and libretto.


Ralph P. Locke is emeritus professor of musicology at the College of Rochester’s Eastman Faculty of Audio. 6 of his content have won the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for excellence in crafting about music. His most latest two guides are Musical Exoticism: Photographs and Reflections and Tunes and the Unique from the Renaissance to Mozart (both Cambridge College Press). Both equally are now offered in paperback the second, also as an e-e book. Ralph Locke also contributes to American Report Tutorial and to the on the internet arts-magazines New York ArtsOpera Currently, and The Boston Musical Intelligencer. His articles or blog posts have appeared in major scholarly journals, in Oxford New music On line (Grove Dictionary), and in the program guides of major opera houses, e.g., Santa Fe (New Mexico), Wexford (Eire), Glyndebourne, Covent Back garden, and the Bavarian State Opera (Munich). The existing overview initially appeared in American History Tutorial and seems here with variety permission.