Vivaldi opera gets premiere in Italian city nearly 300 years late

ROME – The Catholic Church and the northern Italian city of Ferrara are making peace with Antonio Vivaldi almost 300 years after the city’s archbishop canceled the staging of one of its operas, leaving the famous baroque composer in debt for his final years in exile.

The Archbishop of Ferrara, Giancarlo Perego, takes part in the opening Thursday of Vivaldi’s “Il Farnace” in the city’s public theater, a decision welcomed by the theater’s artistic director as a “wonderful gesture” that helps to heal and heal the past highlight one of Vivaldi’s lesser-known works.

“We want to give back to Vivaldi what was stolen from him here in Ferrara,” Marcello Corvino told the Associated Press before the premiere of “Il Farnace”, which tells the story of the tragic dynasty of King Pharnaces II.

According to historians, the ban on Cardinal Tommaso Ruffo Vivaldi from Ferrara actually meant the cancellation of the carnival production of his “Il Farnace” planned for 1739, which was already successful in Italy and beyond. Ruffo’s reason? Vivaldi, an ordained Catholic priest, had stopped celebrating mass and is said to have been in a relationship with one of his singers, Anna Giro.

In reality, Vivaldi wasn’t celebrating mass because he had a long history of respiratory problems and his relationship with Giro was like that of a composer with his lead singer, Corvino said.

The cancellation was financially catastrophic for Vivaldi, Corvino said, as he had paid for the production himself in advance and was already going through a period of decline as his instrumental works had fallen out of favor.

Singers will perform in Antonio Vivaldi’s “Il Farnace” in Ferrara, Italy on December 29, 2021.Marco Caselli Nirmal / Ferrara City Theater Foundation via AP

Vivaldi got into debt and died in Vienna in 1741. Only after the rediscovery of his manuscripts did he achieve posthumous fame with “The Four Seasons” and other concerts.

“It is almost a justification, a belated tribute, that the city of Ferrara Vivaldi is offering,” said Federico Maria Sardelli, who conducts the opera and wrote a book on Vivaldi’s decline, “L’Affare Vivaldi”, which records his final years.

Sardelli says that after Cardinal Ruffo forbade the Venetian composer from entering Ferrara, Vivaldi first tried to set the production to music remotely by writing down explicit stage directions and expressive and interpretive notations that he would normally have given his singers personally.

These notations are preserved in the manuscript made for the Ferrara production, which was never performed. These recordings provided guidelines for the opera opening on Thursday for a two-day run, Sardelli said in a promotional video.

“We have this treasure, this score, which is a reflection of Vivaldi’s trial,” he said. “He wrote incredible things that no Baroque composer ever wrote in a score because they would say it in person. We are fortunate to have Vivaldi’s voice written on this score. “

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