GIOACHINO ROSSINI • Arias from Aureliano in Palmira
GIACOMO MEYERBEER • Arias from Il crociato in Egitto
and further castrato arias from the early 19th century
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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Castrato arias are some of the most beautiful and most demanding ever created for the human voice and even in old age Rossini still went into raptures, “I have never forgotten them. The purity, the miraculous agility of this kind of voice and above all its insistent accentuation – this all moved and captivated me more than I can say. I should not deny that I too composed for one of them, the last but not the worst – Velluti. That was for my opera Aureliano in Palmira.” Giambattista Velluti, born in 1780, was the last representative of the controversial species who in the 18th and early 19th centuries sent the musical world into ecstasy. Velluti founded his fame as Italy’s most outstanding singer in performances of Giuseppe Nicolini’s opera Trajano in 1807 in Rome; in the same year he caused a sensation in Naples, in 1809 in Milan, and similar successes soon followed on other great stages also outside Italy. Giacomo Meyerbeer owed his artistic breakthrough to Velluti, when he sang the role of Armando at the premiere of his opera Il crociato in Egitto in Venice in 1824, which he sang not long afterwards in London. However, his exciting and exalted art of ornamentation was ultimately the reason why Rossini broke with the old tradition of allowing singers to freely shape the vocal lines. At the premiere of Aureliano at La Scala Milan Velluti took enormous liberties with his ornamentation so that Rossini, as related by Stendhal, “no longer heard the music he had composed”. From then onwards Rossini stipulated how coloraturas and cadenzas were to be sung, note by note.
Detail from the illustration Rossinissimo, © Jens Rassmus
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06 June, 19:30
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