Griselda (Vivaldi)

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Griselda (Italian pronunciation: [ɡriˈzɛlda]) is a dramma per musica in three acts that was composed by Antonio Vivaldi. The opera uses a revised version of the 1701 Italian libretto by Apostolo Zeno that was based on Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron (X, 10, "The Patient Griselda").[1] The celebrated Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni was hired to adapt the libretto for Vivaldi. The opera was first performed in Venice at the Teatro San Samuele on 18 May 1735.[2]

Composition history[edit]

Michael Talbot notes that "the particular fame of this opera arises from the fact that it involved a collaboration with Goldoni", although one which was initially fraught with problems,[3] but he goes on to note that the two men eventually worked out an amiable compromise in the revision of an old libretto to fit the vocal limitations of the first Griselda, Anna Girò.

Performance history[edit]

The opera was not given its UK premiere until 23 July 1983 as part of the Buxton Festival, while in the US, it was not presented until 2000.[4]

Today, Griselda is rarely performed, but it featured as one of the 2011 festival season presentations of The Santa Fe Opera. Pinchgut Opera (Sydney) staged four performances November–December 2011 in the City Recital Hall and in Rio de Janeiro Municipal Theatre in June 2012 in concert form with Francesconi, Franco, Nardotto, Bitar, Christensson and Faria conducted by Marco Pace. Two arias from the opera have become popular concert pieces with singers such as Cecilia Bartoli and Simone Kermes. These are "Agitata da due venti" from act 2 and "Dopo un'orrida procella" from act 3.

Roles[edit]

Cover of the libretto for the premiere performance of Griselda
Role Voice type[5] Premiere Cast,
18 May 1735[5]
Gualtiero, King of Thessaly tenor Gregorio Babbi[6]
Griselda, wife of Gualtiero contralto Anna Girò
Costanza, their daughter, unknown to Griselda, in love with Roberto soprano Margherita Giacomazzi
Roberto, an Athenian Prince, in love with Costanza soprano castrato Gaetano Valletta
Ottone, a Thessalian nobleman soprano castrato Lorenzo Saletti
Corrado, Roberto's brother, friend of Gualtiero soprano (en travesti) Elisabetta Gasparini
Everardo, son of Gualterio and Griselda silent Unknown

Synopsis[edit]

Act 1[edit]

Years before the action begins, Gualtiero, King of Thessaly, had married a poor shepherdess, Griselda. The marriage was deeply unpopular with the king's subjects and when a daughter, Costanza, was born, the king had to pretend to have her killed while secretly sending her to be brought up by Prince Corrado of Apulia. Now, faced with another rebellion from the Sicilians, Gualtiero is forced to renounce Griselda and promises to take a new wife. The proposed bride is in fact Costanza, who is unaware of her true parentage. She is in love with Corrado's younger brother, Roberto, and the thought of being forced to marry Gualtiero drives her to despair.

Act 2[edit]

Griselda returns to her home in the countryside where she is pursued by the courtier Ottone, who is in love with her. She angrily rejects his advances. Gualtiero and his followers go out hunting and come across Griselda's cottage. Gualtiero foils an attempt by Ottone to kidnap Griselda and allows her back to the court, but only as Costanza's slave.

Act 3[edit]

Ottone still resolutely pursues Griselda and Gualtiero promises him her hand as soon as he himself has married Costanza. Griselda declares she would rather die and, moved by her faithfulness, Gualtiero takes her back as his wife. He reveals the true identity of Costanza and allows her to marry Roberto.

Recordings[edit]

Year Cast
(Griselda, Gualtiero, Roberto, Costanza, Ottone, Corrado)
Conductor,
Opera House and Orchestra
Label
2005 Marie-Nicole Lemieux
Steffano Ferrari
Philippe Jaroussky
Verónica Cangemi
Simone Kermes
Iestyn Davies
Jean-Christophe Spinosi
Ensemble Matheus
Audio CD: naïve
2006 Marion Newman
Giles Tomkins
Lynne McMurtry
Carla Huhtanen
Colin Ainsworth
Nedecky
Kevin Mallon
Aradia Ensemble
Audio CD: Naxos
Cat: 8.660211-13[2]
2012 Caitlin Hulcup
Christopher Saunders
Tobias Cole
Miriam Allan
David Hansen
Russell Harcourt
Erin Helyard
Pinchgut Opera
Audio CD: Pinchgut Opera

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Eric Cross: "Griselda (iv)", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed November 21, 2008), (subscription access)
  2. ^ a b Dominic McHugh, "Vivaldi: Griselda", review of the 2008 Naxos recording on musicalcriticism.com Retrieved 14 May 2011
  3. ^ Holden, p. 1018
  4. ^ Michael Talbot, "Griselda" in Holden, p. 1017
  5. ^ a b According to Reinhard Strohm, II, p. 563.
  6. ^ Erroneously spelled "Balbi" in the original libretto (Strohm, II, p. 563).

Sources