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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Gluck: Il Trionfo di Clelia

01/21/2018 1:00 pm
01/21/2018 4:30 pm

 

Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

"The Triumph of Clelia" (1763) was the next opera Christoph Willibald Gluck wrote after the Vienna premiere of his famous reform opera, Orfeo ed Euridice, in 1762. Gluck was commissioned to compose an Italian opera seria for the opening of the new public theater of Bologna, now known as the Teatro Communale. A libretto by the leading librettist of the age, Pietro Metastasio, was settled upon for the purpose.

While this opera is in the progressive "galant" style of Orfeo, it has some throwback passages of baroque-style secco recitative. The aria numbers also retain the traditional da capo design. Clelia was accounted a success at Bologna. Gluck recycled some of its music for the French language remake of Orfeo as Orphée in its production in Paris in 1774. Yet the complete score of the 1763 Clelia lay totally forgotten for more than two centuries until Giuseppe Sigismondo de Riso run across it almost by chance in an Italian library. He prepared the performing edition of Gluck's score, and employed it in the world premiere recording of Clelia, made in 2011 in the Megaron, the new concert hall of Athens.

It's de Riso who leads Armonia Atenea, the Greek period instrument orchestra, with a cast of six vocal soloists. Il Trionfo di Clelia came out on three compact discs in 2012 through the German label Dabringhaus und Grimm. The Clelia of the opera's title is a noble and virtuous Roman maiden held captive in the course of the struggle of the city state of Rome to throw off its oppressive Etruscan king Tarquin the Proud.