Europa Riconosciuta

It’s sometimes a bit of a mystery why some works disappear from the opera repertoire while other, not obviously superior, works enjoy lasting success so it’s always a pleasure to discover an obscure work that is really good (1).  Salieri’s Europa Riconosciuta fits that description in my view.  It’s basically an opera seria much along the lines of Mozart’s opere serie (opera serias? – who knows?(2)) except that there’s a longish ballet at the end of Act 1.  There are long, florid, arias with, for the two female leads, very high tessitura.  Two of the three male roles were written for castrati and the one intact male role is for that sort of heroic tenor who crops up in Idomeneo or La Clemenza di Tito.  It’s not as formulaic as works of 50 years earlier.  There are far more ensemble and choral numbers than in any of Handel’s Italian works.  It’s also just plain rather good.  Salieri understands singers and he writes really good melodies.  I guess he was just a bit unfortunate to have that pesky Salzburger as competition.


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Existence is futile

I think my good luck run with Offenbach just ran out.  I really didn’t enjoy the 1991 Opéra National de Lyon production of La Vie Parisienne.  The productions of La Belle Helène and Orphée aux Enfers which I reviewed last week were very much performances by operatic forces letting their hair down; comparable, perhaps, to ENO doing Gilbert and Sullivan. The Lyon La Vie Parisienne seems to come out of an entirely different performing tradition. Continue reading