Chor und Orchester der Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele
Michael Hofstetter, conductor · Jan Hoffmann, chorus master
Florian Mock · Andreas Karasiak · Kirsten Blaise · Anna Bonitatibus
Lisa Larsson · Tobias Schnabel · Daniel Sütö
Year after year, the Ludwigsburg Schlossfestspiele guarantee that listeners can enjoy seldom-played works for musical theater. Now, the festival’s presenters
have started a cooperation with OehmsClassics. The first joint project will be the release of a live recording of Domenico Cimarosa’s opera seria Gli Orazi e i Curiazi, performed in 2005 in Ludwigsburg under the direction of Michael Hofstetter. The prominent soloists include mezzosoprano Anna Bonitatibus, who debuted in 2004 at the Salzburg festival.
In its day, “Gli Orazi e i Curiazi” also experienced a premiere with world stars and became the most successful opera seria of the times, spanning the 18th to 19th centuries – probably even until Rossini came onto the scene. It remained part of the repertoire for nearly 50 years and was performed throughout Europe. In London, it has been performed continually since 1805.
CIMAROSA’S SUCCESSFUL OPERA “GLI ORAZI E I CURIAZI”
AND THE NEAPOLITAN OPERA SERIA OF THE MOZART ERA
From Aversa to the musical centers of Europe: Domenico Cimarosa
Gli Orazi e i Curiazi
Text by Antonio Simone Sografi (1759–1818)
after the tragedy “Horace” by Pierre Corneille (1606–1684)
First performance: December 26, 1796
Teatro La Fenice, Venedig
Domenico Cimarosa, one of the most successful
European opera composers of his time, was born the son of a poor craftsman’s
family in 1749 in the town of Aversa in the Kingdom of Naples (southern Italy). He found his road to music quite by chance: a clergyman discovered his artistic talent, arranged
a scholarship for him and enabled him in this way to be accepted to the respected conservatory of Santa Maria di Loreta in Naples in 1761, where he enjoyed a comprehensive
education. His debut as an opera composer took place in 1772 with the opera buffa Le stravaganze del conte. Decisive for his further career was his contemporary rival Giovanni Paisiello (1740–1816), a fellow countryman
nine years his senior that was both talented
and well established, and whose works proved stiff competition for the stages of Naples.
For this reason, Cimarosa quickly turned his aspirations from Naples to Rome, which served for many musicians as a spring-board to the operatic centers of northern Italy; if an opera composer managed to make a name for himself in Rome, Venice or Milan, it could pave the way for success in the European capitals of Vienna, Paris and London.
The resounding success of the opera buffa L’italiana in Londra, written for the stages of Rome in 1779 and premiered in that same year, catapulted Cimarosa to European fame. In 1786, his one act L’impresario in angustie hit the stage and was enthusiastically received
by, among others, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was deeply impressed by a performance he attended in Rome. One year later, in 1787, Cimarosa was invited to St. Petersburg
by the Tsarina Katharina II, where he became the court musician and successor of his countryman Giuseppe Sarti (1729–1802).
CIMAROSA’S SUCCESSFUL OPERA “GLI ORAZI E I CURIAZI”
AND THE NEAPOLITAN OPERA SERIA OF THE MOZART ERA
He stayed until 1791. During his return trip from St. Petersburg to Naples, he enjoyed a layover in Vienna. Emperor Leopold II valued Cimarosa as much as he loved opera buffa and used this chance to contract the opera Il matrimonio segreto, which premiered in Vienna
in February 1792. This opera proved to be a grand production, indeed a masterpiece, which could claim a role in the operatic repertoire
even after his death and was at least as popular among his contemporaries as Mozart’s
Don Giovanni. Soon after the successful
premier of his buffa Amor rende sagace (1793), the Maestro from Naples returned to his hometown. There he composed a long series
of comic operas (among them Le astuzie femminili in 1794, also a resounding success), but increasingly turned to the genre of the opera seria. In 1795, he composed the opera Penelope for Naples, in 1796, Gli Orazi e i Curiazi
The political unrest of the time following the French Revolution, replete with unstable and quickly shifting power structures, did not fail to affect Cimarosa. Following the first French occupation of Naples in 1779, Cimarosa was contracted to write a commemorative hymn by – and celebrating the personage of – the new potentate. When King Ferdinand IV returned, he imprisoned Cimarosa on the island of Ischia
and only months later could he be freed after the intervention of a church dignitary. He then left Naples and moved to Venice together with his family, where he died in 1801. His grave fell victim to a street expansion project in the 19th century.
Opera buffa and opera seria
Although Cimarosa wrote more than 40 comic operas (opere buffe) during his career, he never lost sight of the serious genre, the opera
seria. This genre had been the dominant genre in Italian opera for more than a century before it was to be rivaled by the genre of the opera buffa in the middle of the 18th century. As a cheerful genre, the opera buffa was not bound to the tradition of courtly theatre and its etiquette; it quickly began to develop in a unique direction both musically and theatrically,
whereas the opera seria remained true to its glittering past both in form and content.
The opera seria received its distinctive form primarily from the works of the Viennese court poet Pietro Metastasio (1698–1782), whose libretti served as homage to the ideal of the absolute ruler in a particularly successful manner and were therefore put to music countless times. The distinctiveness of this operatic genre is to be found in the recitatives and arias from which it is comprised. A scene typically began with a dialogue or monologue in recitative form and was followed by an aria and the departure of the characters who sang them. Apart from duets, there were no ensembles
and for the most part no real choral pieces.
This model first began to teeter near the end of the 18th century, when the formal and dramaturgical achievements of the opera buffa
(and the French opera) began to appear in the opera seria, thanks in no small part to such composers as Cimarosa, Sarti and Paisiello.
The success story of an opera seria:
Cimarosa’s Gli Orazi e i Curiazi
Domenico Cimarosa composed in sum total 16 opere serie, Gli Orazi e i Curiazi was the fourth-to-last and also the most successful of them all. The libretto was written by Antonio
Simone Sografi (1759–1818), a writer with progressive ideas for the dramaturgical
and formal elements of the opera seria. Above all he loved subject matter that could be formed to fit a colossal, pseudo-historical “stage-tableau”, preferably with a dramatic and climactic death on stage. As an example of the dramaturgical innovations he promoted was his attempt to combine numerous scenes into scene-blocks and to interlink the chorus and aria, as can be seen in the case of Marco Orazio’s grand aria Se alla patria ognor donai in the first act. Cimarosa on the other hand, it can be seen, attempted to transfer the treatment
of the recitative into ever larger, multi-pieced ensembles, which provided a scenic model of great musical effect for the stage. It is therefore not surprising that the composer tried to bring this experience to the opera seria, a fact that is clearly witnessed by the increasing number of ensemble pieces from work to work. In its original form, Gli Orazi e i Curiazi contained numerous choral pieces that were woven together with arias and ensembles;
this is exemplified in the cave scene of the second act, which achieves a holistic musical grandiosity whose impressive power had never been heard before. With this approach,
Cimarosa and Sografi pointed the way for Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868) and the later Prussian court musician Gaspare Spontini (1774–1851) – composers that would considerably transform the opera seria at the beginning of the 19th century.
Apart from the militant and revolutionary musical
verve that reminds one more of Beethoven than Mozart and that reflects the post-revolutionary
spirit, in Gli Orazi e i Curiazi we encounter
cautious and tender moments. The French music author Stendhal (1783–1842), a great admirer of Cimarosa who considered him even greater than Mozart, particularly adored the aria of Curiazio Quelle pupille tenere
(Act 1), which is indeed one of the most beautiful pieces of its kind from the end of the 18th century. Curiazio was sung by the castrato Girolamo Crescentini in the first performance and is therefore a soprano role. Marco Orazio was embodied by the tenor Matteo Babini, whose powerfully emotional voice likely lent the role a novel heroic cadence that anticipated
the romantic Italian tenor. Long interval leaps and heroic pathos characterize, among others, Marco’s aria Se alla patria (Act 1).
Gli Orazi e i Curiazi experienced its premiere with an all-star cast and became the most successful
opera seria at the turn of the 19th century,
if not until the time of the great Rossini. It was part of the operatic repertoire throughout Europe for almost 50 years, and has enjoyed a tradition of continuous production in London
since 1805. George Hogarth, a somewhat younger contemporary of Cimarosa, was witness
to the London premiere. In the middle of the 19th century he wrote the following lines, which demonstrate why Gli Orazi e i Curiazi was so impressive for audiences of the time: “The music is full of noble simplicity, wonderfully
beautiful melodies and intense expression. The dramatic truthfulness of the arias is never a victim of the vocal execution. The ensembles are broadly expressed, grandiose and impressive.
(…) The piece would still find appreciation among modern audiences with a larger orchestra.”
The fame of the piece spread quickly and in 1810, Napoleon I. arranged a private production
in the Palais des Tuileries.
The unusually long success story resulted in the opera being subjected to adaptation and change numerous times. In the practice of the Italian operatic tradition, it was normal that the sheet music was adapted to the prevailing conditions for each new production or performance,
particularly with consideration for the casting of the singers. That the works of a composer be considered untouchable was unknown; what counted was the success of the individual performance and the optimal adaptation of the music and text to the artistic skills of the soloists. This resulted in not just one historically valid version of Gli Orazi e i Curiazi, but many, which today serve as a rich source of inspiration for modern productions. The Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele have drawn from this source to produce a version that fulfills modern expectations and demonstrates
that this piece has lost none of its fascination
or vitality after more than 200 years.
Rome, during the early Republic
translation: Maurice Sprague
The Romans are lamenting the ceaseless war with Alba. The supreme augur however announces hope for an imminent resolution. Sabina is fearful of the outcome, as either her family or her husband will be affected: she is a daughter of the Curiazi family from Alba and is married to the Roman citizen Marco Orazio. His father, Publio Orazio, reassures her. At that moment, a cessation of hostilities is agreed to and shortly thereafter the marriage of Sabina’s
brother Curiazio to Marco Orazio’s sister Orazia is to take place. Confidence wins the upper hand. But before the wedding ceremony takes place, Publio Orazio announces that the rulers of Rome and Alba have resolved to decide
the fate of their two cities by a battle be-tween three young Romans and three young warriors of Alba: Marco Orazio and his two brothers are to represent Rome – and three of the Curiazi brothers are to represent Alba.
Curiazio and Orazia say farewell to each other in a dolorous disputation on love and fame. The battle is to begin on the Field of Mars. But the events are forestalled yet again: the gods could consider the war between relatives
and friends as barbarous. An oracle of Apollo, sequestered in a cave on Aventine Hill, is asked for guidance. The answer: battle. Once again, Orazia and Curiazo say farewell. The battle begins – and is decided by a victory of the Roman Orazi and the death of the Curiazi.
Marco Orazio returns home triumphant. Orazia accuses her brother of murder. Marco then stabs her to death.
The choir and orchestra of the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele have a new principal conductor
since 2005: Michael Hofstetter. Born in Munich, he began his career in the theatres of Wiesbaden (Kapellmeister) and Giessen (general
music director). In the last few years he has established himself as one of the most sought-after young conductors. He made a name for himself as a specialist for Baroque music and as an expert for authentic performance, with such notable operas as Handel’s Alcino and Giulio Cesare
in Egitto (in cooperation with stage director Herbert Wernicke). But Hofstetter’s repertoire includes much more: When he conducted the new production of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde at the Opernhaus Dortmund in 2000, he was repeatedly
hailed as conductor of the year in the annual critics’ survey by the music magazine ‘Opernwelt’. His fondness for, and engagement with, the operetta genre was recognized with his being awarded the Robert Stolz Medal. Michael Hofstetter, also the principal conductor
of the Orchestre de Chambre de Genève, is a regular guest at many prominent opera houses, orchestras and festivals, among others the Staatsoper Hamburg and Bavarian Staatsoper, the Deutsche and the Komische Oper in Berlin, the Norske Opera in Oslo and the Royal Opera of Copenhagen, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona,
the Welsh National Opera in Cardiff, the Baseler Opernhaus and, for several years now, the Salzburg Festival where he is conducting the Mozart trilogy Irrfahrten in 2006 (stage director: Joachim Schlömer). In the 2006/07 season, he will conduct the production of Actus tragicus at the Staatsoper Stuttgart and Humperdinck’s Hänsel and Gretel at the Semperoper Dresden; moreover he will conduct the first scenic staging
of Handel’s oratorio La resurrezione at the Handel Festival in Karlsruhe. Michael Hofstetter was Professor of Orchestral Conducting and Old Music at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. Starting in autumn 2006, he will assume the direction of the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra.
Andreas Karasiak (Marco Orazio, Tenor) studied singing at the Johannes Gutenberg
University in Mainz and – simultaneously – Baroque music under René Jacobs in Basel. From 1999–2002, Andreas Karasiak was engaged
as a lyric tenor at the Nationaltheater Mannheim and sang such roles as Tamino, Ferrando and Belmonte in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Così fan tutte and The Abduction from the Seraglio, Alfred in Strauss’ The Bat, the swan in Orff’s Carmina Burana and Uriel in Haydn’s The Creation. Guest appearances have affiliated him with opera houses in Stuttgart,
Wiesbaden, Weimar, Basel, Melbourne and Bilbao, where he worked together with – amongst others – stage directors like Katharina
Thalbach and George Tabori. Andreas Karasiak has performed in concerts under such personalities as Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Helmuth Rilling, Sylvain Cambreling, Ton Koopman, Gustav Leonhardt, David Zinman
and Michael Hofstetter. Numerous radio broadcasts document his impressive work, such as his performances together with La Stagione Frankfurt under Michael Schneider, with the Collegium Vocale Gent and with the Orchestre des Champs Elysées under Philippe Herreweghe, as well as his CD-productions under Bruno Weil (Gluck’s L’innocenza giustificata)
and Christoph Spering (Cartellieri’s Christmas Oratory).
Kirsten Blaise (Orazia, Soprano) received her singing education at Indiana University
in Bloomington. The American singer performed
her operatic debut in Handel’s Israel in Egypt in 1996 with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. Since then she has been heard in many important international centres of music, amongst others the Oregon Bach and Carmel Bach Festival under Helmuth Rilling and Bruno Weil. In 2003, she celebrated her debut in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw together with the Nederlands Radio Symfonie Orkest under Richard
Hickox. Furthermore, she performed as the British Dancing Girl in the British premier of John Adam’s The Death of Klinghoffer under Leonard Slatkin. She also interpreted this role in the sensational filming of the opera that was screened at renowned film festivals and was crowned – amongst others – with the international
media prize Prix Italia. A particularly close collaboration connects the soprano with Michael Hofstetter, under whom she performed at the Handel-Festspiele in Karlsruhe and Halle. In 2005, she sang at the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele
under his direction in Haydn’s The Creation and in Cimarosa’s Gli Orazi e i Curiazi. In the autumn of 2005, she debuted as Woglinde in Wagner’s Rh
Anna Bonitatibus (Curiazio, Mezzo-soprano) performed her opening debut in Vivaldi’s Tamerlano at the Teatro Filarmonico di Verona.
Since then she has expanded her repertoire to include the great operas of Rossini and Mozart and the works of Monteverdi, Pergolesi, Bellini
and other lesser-well-known composers (amongst others, the two Cimarosa operas, Il marito disperato and L’Olimpiade) as well as contemporary music. The singer has been a guest in the great opera houses of Europe and has been heard at the Bavarian Staatsoper in Munich, the Semperoper in Dresden, the Opéra de Lyon, the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples
as well as in London, Paris and numerous Italian cities. In 2004, she enjoyed her debut at the Salzburg Festival. Among her musical partners can be found conductors such as Marc Minkowski, René Jacobs, Ton Koopman,
Trevor Pinnock, Jordi Savall, Lorin Maazel,
Riccardo Muti and Myung-Whun Chung. Among others she has performed in Pergolesi’s
Stabat mater, Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, Mozart’s Requiem and Mass in C Minor, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis and Ninth Symphony as well as Strawinsky’s Les Noces and Prokofjew’s Alexander Newskij. She can be heard on CD performing works by Vivaldi, Scarlatti, Handel and Gluck.
Lisa Larsson (Sabina, Soprano) began her music career as a concert flutist before she studied singing in Basel, afterwards she became
a member of the International Opera Studio
of the Zurich Opera. In Zurich, the Swedish singer worked together with such conductors as Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Franz Welser-Möst and Christoph von Dohnányi. Her debut outside of Zurich was in the role of Papagena in Mozart’s The Magic Flute under Riccardo Muti at the Scala
in Milan. Since then, Lisa Larsson has been present at the most important opera houses in Europe: as Susanna in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro she has performed in Venice, Basel, Copenhagen,
Genf, Gent and Leipzig; thereto she has performed the role of Najade in Strauss’ Ariadne
on Naxos at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, as Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, as well as the role of Servilia in The Clemency of Titus at the Bavarian Staatsoper in Munich and in Glyndebourne.
Lisa Larsson’s activities as a concert performer are equally impressive. A productive collaboration united her with Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, which has been preserved in numerous CDs. Additional partners on stage and in the studio can be found in Sir John Eliot Gardiner and his English Baroque
Soloists, Gottfried von der Goltz and the Freiburg Barockorchester, as well as the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under Daniel Harding.
Tobias Schabel (Augure, Bass) was already
a member of the International Opera Studio of the Staatsoper Hamburg during his studies in Hamburg. After numerous
Master Classes, one of which was with Montserrat Caballé, his first engagement lead him to Lucerne, where he could be seen in such roles as the Commander in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Colline in Puccini’s La Bohème and Argante in Handel’s Rinaldo. Since 2002/03 he has been a member of the ensemble at the Nationaltheater in Mannheim. Guest appearances
as Fafner in Wagner’s Rheingold and as Hobson in Britten’s Peter Grimes took him to the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. He enjoyed a guest appearance as Don Alfonso in Mozart’s Così fan tutte in Basel and in 2003 he performed for the Bregenz Festival in Janácˇek’s The Cunning Little Vixen. Most recently
he embodied Dulcamara in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at the Nationaltheater in Mannheim,
Rocco in Beethoven’s Fidelio, Fafner in Wagner’s Siegfried, Titurel in Parsifal and King Henry in Lohengrin as well as Verdi’s Fiesco in Simone Boccanegra, Silva in Ernani and Philipp in Don Carlo.
Florian Mock (Publio Orazio, Tenor) not only studied at the Academy of Music in his home town of Augsburg, but also under
Marianne Fischer-Kupfer in Berlin and in Master Classes under Nicolai Gedda and Raúl Giménez. He debuted at the Junge Oper of the Staatsoper Stuttgart in 1997, became a member of the Bonn Opera ensemble in 1998, moved to the Komische Oper in Berlin in 2000, and has since relocated to the Munich Staats-theater am Gärtnerplatz in 2003/04. There he has been heard in such roles as Ferrando in Così fan tutte, Arbace in Idomeneo, Belmonte in Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, Don Ramiro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola and Chateauneuf in Lortzing’s Tsar and Carpenter. Guest appearances have lead him to Hamburg,
Cologne, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden and Vienna, where he performed among others the roles of Count Almaviva in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Fenton in Verdi’s Falstaff and Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. In addition, he has appeared in concerts both domestic and abroad, and appeared at notable
festivals (Beethoven Festival in Bonn, Rheingau
Music Festival and Rossini in Wildbad). Florian Mock’s first CD, Salieri’s Passione di Gesù Cristo, was recorded in 2003 under the direction of Christoph Spering.
Daniel Sütö (Sarcedote, Bass) comes from Tirgu Mures in Romania, where he was born into a Hungarian family. Following his study of music theory and choir conducting in the Romanian city of Brasov he attending
the Music Conservatory of Trossingen in Baden-Württemberg starting in 1995. There he studied under Monika Moldenhauer and has continued to study after the successful completion of his degree program in March, 2005. Daniel Sütö has already performed numerous
large roles in conservatory productions
including the title role in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Tschaikowsky’s Eugen Onegin. Since 2004, the bassist, who for some years has been a member of the Choir of the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele and has conducted two choirs in the vicinity of Tuttlingen
since 2002, offers recitals with works from Schubert, Loewe, Brahms and many more.
Chor der Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele
The Choir of the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele
emerged from the Süddeutscher Madrigalchor Stuttgart and looks back on a long and successful tradition with numerous tours and recordings. After more than 40 years under the direction of Wolfgang Gönnenwein, the choir presents itself under its new principal
conductor Michael Hofstetter with a slightly modified cast and as a vocal ensemble
of flexible size that covers a broad musical spectrum – from intimate chamber vocals to a grand choir, with music from the Renaissance to the choral pieces of the 20th century. In the 2005 season, the Choir of the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele was highly praised, most notably for its impressive performance of Berlioz’s
Grande Messe des Morts. This year the choir is not only to be heard in Ludwigsburg, but also at the Salzburg Festival – in Joachim Schlömer’s and Michael Hofstetter’s Mozart-trilogy Irrfahrten.
Rehearsals for the choir have been in the hands of Jan Hoffmann since the beginning of 2005. Jan Hoffmann was already gathering experience as a choir conductor and vocals instructor for the Bachensemble in Mainz during
his study of Music Pedagogy with a major in Singing. In 1996, Hoffman was lecturer for choir conducting and vocal instruction at the Klassiksommer Hamm and the International Choir Festival in Mainz. In the same year he assumed a university teaching position for choral vocal instruction and ensemble conducting
at the Collegium Musicum of the Johannes
Gutenberg University in Mainz. Since 1998, Hoffmann is chorus master and Kapellmeister
of the Giessen Stadttheater, thereto artistic director of the Giessen Konzertverein, the Singakademie Wetzlar and the Giessen Kammerchor. In 2001, he established the Amadeus
Vokalensemble, with which he made guest appearances at the Rheingau Music Festival and in Geneva.
Orchester der Ludwigsburger
Established in 1975 by Wolfgang Gönnenwein,
the Orchestra of the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele is, despite having changed its principal conductor of many years, essentially
unchanged. The ensemble is comprised of members from the leading orchestra of Baden-Württemberg, university professors and graduates, and was supplemented by Michael Hofstetter with predominantly young independent musicians from the old music scene; this change was initiated so as to adapt to the new artistic trend of lively and authentic performance. The objective is to perform every piece of music, from Baroque to Modern, with the period instruments for which it was composed
– a challenge that the musicians meet with the greatest possible stylistic flexibility. With its new principal conductor, the Orchestra
of the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele is increasing its presence in the European market:
in 2006 it performed in Götz Alsmann’s ZDF Classic Show Eine große Nachtmusik and at the renowned Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg,