Vivaldi: Ercole Sul Termodonte / Stains, Nesi, Curtis
John Pascoe, director, set & costume designer.
Sara Erde, choreographer.
NTSC All Region
Sound: LPCM 2.0; Dolby Digital 5.1
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Duration: 136 mins.
Subtitled in Italian, English, German & French
Singers of great renown were called upon for the first performance of Ercole sul Termodonte by Antonio Vivaldi in Rome, “in the hall of Signor Federico Capranica”, on 27th January 1723. An exclusively male singing cast, as was the custom on Roman stages, to tell the tale of the battle between Hercules, accompanied by the heroes Theseus, Telamon and Alceste, and the Amazons led by Antiope. The story, which is based on the ninth of the legendary labours of Hercules, and which concludes with the traditional happy ending here decreed by Diana, who proclaims the nuptial unions of Hippolyte, Antiope’s sister, (with Theseus, prince of Athens) and of Martesia, Antiope’s daughter (with Telamon, king of Ithaca), was arranged by the “regular canon of La Carità of Venice” Don Giacomo Francesco Bussani, on a libretto that had already been performed in 1678 at the San Salvatore theatre in Venice. The opera was successful, winning appreciation and at the same time astonishment , through its introduction of many passages written in a new “manner”, with an exciting, incisive rhythmic gait. This style so excited the Romans that from then on they demanded it almost exclusively in melodramas.
After the success of 1723, however, Ercole did not circulate widely and at a certain point the score was thought to have been lost. It has only recently been reassembled thanks to the precious rediscovery of some thirty arias and two duets in various archives, and has been reconstructed in its recitative passages. Arias and recitatives are indeed the traditional dramatic pillars supporting the dénouement of the story. The recitatives are generally “secco”, recreated along Vivaldian principles of expressivity and flexibility to accentuate the quality of the individual verses and respecting the general tone of the discourse. The orchestra, however, is present, punctually and in elaborate manner, not only in the more dramatic moments but also in the bucolic, descriptive arias, and stands in the service of the voice to accentuate onomatopoeic effects and to offer clearer depictions of the characters and the feelings that drive them. Now in his twenty-second opera score, Vivaldi brings into play all the technical means at his disposal to render the story comprehensible and to present the state of mind of the individual characters. The main desire of the “red priest” was to proceed smoothly, following the expressive substance of the verses, using shifting melodic invention to set the various scenic moments against a ceaseless search for lively collaboration between voices and instruments and a skilled use of harmonies and of a fanciful search for colors. The final “product”, based though it was on the structures of Neapolitan opera, thus emerges as something unique and personal.
NOTE: Contains nudity
Catalog Number: DYN-33525
Composer: Antonio Vivaldi
Conductor: Alan Curtis
Orchestra/Ensemble: Il Complesso Barocco
Performer: Filippo Mineccia, Laura Cherici, Luca Dordolo, Marina Bartoli, Mary-Ellen Nesi, Randall Scotting, Zachary Stains