Day 54: I Know What to Say

HaydnCD54I didn’t know what to say yesterday for Part I of Haydn’s opera La Fedelta Premiata.

But I know what to say today.


Way too much talking in Italian. Not enough singing and orchestration.

For me, the only redeeming aspect of La Fedelta Premiata is that this CD was recorded before a live audience. So there’s clapping and laughing, presumably at appropriate times.

I didn’t include the opera as a link to YouTube yesterday. I didn’t want you listening ahead. But I don’t care if you do or not today. Here it is, the very same performance to which I’ve been listening for two days:

As you’ll see, the singers are fantastic. The orchestration is first rate. And I’m sure the audience is comprised of a bunch of really nice folks.

But this is one of my least favorite Haydn operas. I don’t know why. It just is.

Day 53: I Have No Idea What to Say

HaydnCD53La Fedelta Premiata is an opera in three acts composed by Franz Joseph Haydn “first performed at Eszterháza on 25 February 1781 to celebrate the reopening of the court theatre after a fire. It was revised for a new version first performed in 1782,” according to its entry on Wikipedia. It was composed in 1780. Haydn was 48.

I liked it from the first few bars of the Overture.

That’s probably because I love orchestral music, played allegro con spirito – and Haydn’s Overture to La Fedelta Premiata is very spirited, indeed.

So is the Introduction, when the voices first appear (as a chorus).

The cast:

Amaranta: Ellen van Haaren soprano
Nerina: Maja Roodveldt soprano
Diana: Ester Beens soprano
Celia: Xenia Meijer alto
Fileno: Patrick Henckens tenor
Lindoro: Frank Fritschy tenor
Perruchetto: Tom Sol baritone
Melibeo: Julian Hartman bass

The performers:

Esterhazy Chorus & Orchestra
Frank van Koten

The plot:

The people of Cumae worship Diana, goddess of hunting and chastity. Their rites however have been defiled by a nymph whose treachery has brought a curse on them. To propitiate the angry goddess, two faithful lovers must be sacrificed each year to a lake monster until a faithful lover can be found to offer his own life. Fidelity, therefore, is at a premium in Cumae, and victims are hard to find.

The plot is “part thriller about lovers being sacrificed to a monster, part burlesque sending up pseudo-classical and early romantic emotions”.

Once again, today’s CD (par for the course in the Brilliant Classics Haydn Edition) features a high-quality recording of an inspired performance at Haydnsaal, Esterhazy Castle, Eisenstadt, Austria. It must be Continue reading

Day 52: Like a German Monty Python

HaydnCD52Today’s CD, Haydn’s opera Die Feuersbrunst (“The Burned-Down House”), is a very odd duck indeed.

For one thing, some of this sounds like a Monty Python skit with a couple of guys talking in high-pitched voices pretending to be women. Or kids. Or marionettes, as is the subject-matter of this “comic opera in two acts.”

From the website

The plot, involving the adventures of a buffoon named Hanswurst who speaks in a light Viennese dialect, is truly absurd enough to defy summary, but it’s fast-moving and full of amorous intrigue between masters and servants. Both the arias and the spoken interludes are brief, and Haydn rose to the occasion with a mixture of jolly tunes and exaggerated pathos that must have been great fun for all involved. The singers (there are four vocal parts) enter into the situation-comedy spirit of the action…

Buffoons and situation-comedy jocularity. Yes. It’s all here.

Along with lots and lots of talking. In German. It’s like an immersive German-language course.

What I can’t figure out is why this comedic opera is called Die Feuersbrunst. When I typed “Feuersbrunst” into Google, up popped these images:

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 9.12.34 AMSo that’s what a Feuersbrunst looks like. Here are a couple more definitions from Continue reading