Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
An elegant old opera
Dr. John W. Rippon | Florida | 06/01/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Listening to this disc is pure delight. It is a semi-staged production with scrims and actor/singers reading from script books and with period instruments. The group is called the Roma Barocca Ensemble which specializes in Italian baroque music. It is led by Lorenzo Tozzi. The production is held in an ancient building in the Italian town of Bolsena. A little musicology is appropriate here before delving into an appraisal of the work. At the beginning of the Renaissance there was a rediscovery of the culture and writings of ancient Greece and later Rome. These studies led authors to form an imagenary idyll and ideal of a simple life and time in a legendary land, Arcadia, somewhere in Greece. It was inhabited by virtuous nymphs and shepherds whose main concerns were the joys and vicissitudes of virtuous love. In literature and later in music and theater there developed the Pastoral Fable (Favola Pastorale) in this setting. A few noted examples are the "Favola d'Orfeo" of Poliziano in 1490, the famous "Il Pastor Fido" of Guarini 1581 and Tasso's "Aminta" (1583). The latter author became the most influential of the pastoral school which became incredible popular from the 14th to the 16th centuries.
Opera as an art form was invented by a committee in 1599. The group called the Camerata met for several years in the castle of Count Bardi outside Florence. The first opera was a Favola (Fable) by Peri named "Euridici" (now lost) and the Caccini's "Euridici". There followed many operas including the first operatic masterpiece Monteverdi's "Orfeo, Favola in Musica" in 1607. By Scarlatti's time in the late 17th and early 18th centuries the opera was very popular and hundreds had been written using the Fable form. Alessandro Scarlatti came in at the end of the popularity of the pastoral fable and so after a long and sucessful career he saw his art form fall out of favor and died a forgetten man. During his active career in Naples and later in Rome, Florence and Venice he composed some eighty operas about half of which are extant. He crystalized the form of the Fable Opera as such. There were two pairs of nymphs and shepherds plus a comic pair for "earthy" contrast. It became a standard for the "humble" shepherd to have "noble" sentiments and discus the philosophical disquisitions of virtuous love. The scenes were also in pairs an "outside" with mountains and forests with some hunting and the "inside" in some rustic dwelling for the lovers intimate conversations. There were three acts, the first two acts ending with a comic duet in lively style commenting on the two other lover pairs. All of this is found in this work "Il Pastor di Corinto". This is the first Scarlatti opera I've experienced although I've heard several of his cantatas. I've gone through DVDs of the operas of several composers of the same period such as Galuppi, Vivaldi and Cavalli and I think this score far superior. I find this work to be suffused with a noble elegance, beautiful interplay of voice and instruments and short, quicky developing and varied melodic lines in solo arias, duets and ensemble singing. Here the characters are two nymphs Clori and Fille and a shepherd Niso from Thessaly and the shepherds as hunters (for game and love) Silvio and Melisso from Corinth. The comic couple are a goatherd (a lower station than a shepherd)Sepollo and a milkmaid Sepilla that he persues and never catches. The work is not only beautiful but fun."