University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Heinichen: Flavio Crispo

11/17/2019 1:00 pm
11/17/2019 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

Over the years I have introduced radio audiences to obscure baroque operas, often in world premiere recordings of these works. Now you get to hear an Italian opera seria that I guarantee you NOBODY has ever heard before. That is until now... 

Flavio Crispo by Johann David Heinichen (1683-1729) was probably intended to be staged in Dresden at carnival season of 1720, but apparently that never happened. One possible factor: the stellar singers resident in Dresden who were required for singing such difficult music quarreled amongst each other and shortly left town for job opportunities in London and elsewhere. Heinichen's score for Flavio Crispo also demands top notch instrumentalists. The parts for the two natural horn players are challenging indeed, but splendid in effect. Considering how colorful and dramatic all the music for Flavio Crispo is, it must have been a terrible disappointment to the composer not to get his creation brought before the public.

I hope you will appreciate hearing the world premiere recording of Flavio Crispo for the German CPO label. It's a studio recording, not a live-in-performance audio document of a staged production. It was made in the concert hall of the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart in 2016. Jörg Halubek conducts the period instrument players of Il Gusto Barocco, the Stuttgart Baroque Orchestra, and a cast of seven vocal soloists. As for the story of the opera, it's derived from Roman history. Flavio Crispo or Flavius Crispus is the son of the emperor Constantine. His own father seeks to poison him, but the heir to the empire suddenly makes his reappearance to general rejoicing. Much imperial court intrigue and amorous entanglement comes before the happy ending.