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Saverio Mercadante – Virginia

For the poetic text of Virginia, Mercadante turned to the pen of Calisto Bassi: he had certainly dealt with the poet in relation to the libretti of his last two ‘Viennese’ operas, in all probability composed during that same period (Le nozze di Telemaco ed Antiope and Il podestà di Burgos). The incident that provides the subject matter of the cantata is taken from Book III of The History of Rome by Titus Livius (27 B.C. - 14 A.D.) and was the basis of a play by Vittorio Alfieri (1777-83). […] In his poetic text Bassi portrays a heroine anguished by the renunciation of her own affections and at the same time proudly valorous in defending her honour with her life; for his part, Mercadante captures in toto the dramatic essence of the situation, producing a chamber work of rare beauty in which he invests all his theatrical and compositional expertise. According to the autograph title, Virginia is a ‘cantata’; in fact disguised by this term, which by the early 19th century has completely lost its original meaning, is a scena drammatica in which its contemporary audience would have easily been able to recognize the structure of a gran scena: in other words, a device whose function in romantic melodrama had become that of displaying the virtuosity of the primadonna. […] In the score of our cantata, as a matter of course, sections varying in metre and in character succeed each other in a fluid manner, one the premise, the other the conclusion drawn from it, in continuous interplay between action and reflection through which the composer effectively delineates the protagonist’s interior journey.

Saverio Mercadante – Virginia

$39.95 CAD
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