Comedy Comes to Baroque Opera
Visitors have the rare chance to enjoy a comic opera from 1763, this September at Český Krumlov’s gorgeously authentic Baroque Theatre.
Everyone’s cultural ″to-do″ list should contain a performance at this beautiful, timeless theatre inside Český Krumlov’s castle complex.
Here, the Hof-Musici Baroque Orchestra presents Antonio Boroni’s L’Amore in Musica in three performances across the Sept 18-20 weekend during the Festival of Baroque Arts Český Krumlov.
Unlike serious Baroque operas, this piece calls on no ancient heroes or personification of lofty virtues.
Instead, a competitive soprano arrives as a foreign house guest of a local soprano, along with a rich, foolish old businessman, an impresario flourishing lucrative contracts, and other very worldly characters.
So instead of heroes fighting the gods, it’s a story of everyone fighting everyone, but all covered with fake smiles, in a proper 18th-century Venice drawing room.
It’s a comedy of manners set to the harpsichord, theorbo, violone, and other authentic Baroque instruments, all beautifully played by the Hof-Musici Baroque Orchestra under the direction of Ondrej Macek.
Watch bass-baritone Zdeněk Kapl (Cromatico) master the ″amazing curls and runs″ of this solo at the June 13, 2015 preview performance, Strahov Monastery:
As usual with this festival, the eighth, the singing is outstanding. Mezzo-soprano Pavla Stěpničková takes the role of Reginella, with tenor Pavel Valenta (Fabrizio) competing for her hand, and bass-baritone Ivo Michl (Anselmo) as his father. Jana Dvořáková (Farfarella) shoulders much of the voice work as the visitor, with her clear soprano coupled with comedic expressions and stances.
Even though it’s clear right from the start that all must end happily (and symmetrically), it’s still a treat to watch the machinations of the love-matching proceed, falter, almost fail, and then of course, to triumph.
But even without the story, the singing and the music provide a rich, lush performance of this once very-popular love story, as this slideshow from the June 13, 2015 preview performance at Strahov Monastery indicates:
Composer’s Czech Connections
Antonio Boroni was a popular composer in his day (1738-1792). In the space of just two years, starting in 1763, he presented six of his operas to welcoming audiences in Venice. L’Amore in Musica, his best-known work, was popular for nearly a decade, and performed in dozens of Italian cities and beyond.
In 1765 the opera premiered in Prague and also enjoyed performances in Karlovy Vary. Two years later, Boroni accepted the position of conductor of the Italian opera company at Prague’s V Kotcích theater. But by the end of a year there, he was ready to move on to Kapellmeister positions, in Dresden, Stuttgart, and eventually, the Vatican.
As of this writing, tickets are still available for performances of the opera, except for Sat, Sept 19. Seating is limited at the other events.
– Mary Matz, Opus Osm editor
Photo Credits: Top: Festival of Baroque Arts Český Krumlov; video and slideshow, Miroslav Setnička