Farnace (Italian spelling for Pharnaces), is the title of several 18th-century operas set to various librettos. The earliest version was written by Lorenzo Morari with music by Antonio Caldara, first performed at the Teatro Sant'Angelo in Venice in 1703. The best known libretto on this subject, however, was written by Antonio Maria Lucchini and initially set by Leonardo Vinci during 1724.
Farnace, with music by Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741), received its first performance in 1727 at the Teatro Sant'Angelo in Venice. Popular at the time, and revived with great success at the Sporck theater in Prague in 1730, Vivaldi's Farnace (RV 711) slipped into oblivion until the last quarter of the 20th century when it emerged from obscurity.
The third Farnace was composed by Francesco Corselli (1705–1778) (an Italian composer with a French father). Corselli's Farnace received its debut in Madrid at the Royal Theater of the Buen Retiro in 1739. Additional settings continued to be composed as late as the 1780s. One of the best of the later settings is the one composed by Josef Mysliveček for the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples in 1767. Nonetheless, it is mainly the Vivaldi setting that continues to attract interest today.
Venice carnivale, 1731
|Farnace, King of Pontus||contralto en travesti||Maria Maddalena Pieri|
|Tamiri, Farnace's wife||contralto||Anna Maddalena Giraud, also named "la (or Annina) Girò"|
|Berenice, Tamiri's mother||soprano||Angela Capuano Romana, also named "la Capuanina"|
|Pompeo, Victorius Roman soldier||contralto castrato||Lorenzo Moretti|
|Selinda, Farnace's sister||soprano||Lucrezia Baldini|
|Gilade, Berenice's Captain||soprano castrato||Filippo Finazzi|
|Aquilio, Roman soldier||contralto castrato||Domenico Giuseppe Galletti|
The opera tells the story of Pharnaces II; according to the uses of the time there is no historical accuracy since the fate of Pharnaces is quite different from the one in history books.
Farnace, King of Pontus, has been defeated, and to avoid their falling into the hands of the enemy, he commands his wife, Tamiri, to kill their son and then herself. Tamiri's mother, Berenice, hates Farnace and is in cahoots with Pompey, the Roman victor, to kill him. Selinda, Farnace's sister, is taken captive by the Roman Aquilius, who falls in love with her, as does Berenice's Captain, Gilades. Selinda plays them off one another in an attempt to save her brother. Somehow, it ends happily and everyone is spared.
- Jordi Savall recorded the Vivaldi opera (during a number of live performances at the Teatro de la Zarzuela Madrid), combined with a few selections from the Corselli version. Soloists include Sara Mingardo.
- Farnace: Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741) - Jordi Savall, Le Concert des Nations, Coro del Teatro de la Zarzuela - Alia Vox 9822. 
- Farnace: Vivaldi - Max Emanuel Cencic, Ruxandra Donose; I Barocchisti, Diego Fasolis, cond. Rec. 2010. Virgin Classics CD
- Talbot, Michael. "Antonio Maria Lucchini". In Macy, Laura. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. (subscription required)
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