University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Mayr: Telemaco

11/12/2017 1:00 pm
11/12/2017 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

As a genre the Italian opera seria dates from the baroque era going back to the beginning of the eighteenth century. It survived to the end of that century, but underwent some changes. Gluck reformed the genre as the baroque morphed into the period of the classical style. A German composer, Johann Simon Mayr took the opera seria into the nineteenth century. Born in Bavaria in 1763, Mayr was a little younger than the Austrian Mozart and a little older than the Rhineland native Beethoven. He long outlived both of them, dying in 1845. Mayr’s career was largely spent in Italy. He Italianized his name. His operas continued to be performed in Italy and elsewhere in Europe up to circa 1850. For a while his works vied in popularity with those of Rossini. It is therefore hard to believe how Mayr’s operas in later times could have become so completely forgotten. Now in the twenty first century a conductor from Bavaria, Franz Hauk has championed the cause of Mayr’s music. He has already recorded three of Mayr’s oratorios, released on silver disc through the Naxos label. In 2017 Naxos came out with Hauk’s interpretation of the opera Telemaco (1797). Mayr’s style builds upon the advances made by Gluck, yet retains the old fashioned secco recitatives. Otherwise this opera seria is as progressive as anything by Mozart. If you like Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito (1791) you will certainly enjoy listening to Telemaco. The story of this opera concerns the heroic exploits and amorous affairs of Telemachus, son of Odysseus of Ithaca. Telemachus figures importantly in Homer’s epic poem. In the world premiere recording of Telemaco Franz Hauk directs from the harpsichord the period instrument players of Concerto de Bassus, members of the Bavarian State Opera Chorus and his own Simon Mayr Chorus, with six vocal soloists.

This Sunday “Sunday Afternoon at the Opera” participates in WWUH’s annual weeklong Fall Fundraiser. Please help support “lyric theater” programming with your pledged dollars. You faithful listeners have never failed to help us meet or even exceed our fundraising goals in seasons past, so I thank you in advance for your generosity.