University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Haydn: La Vera Costanza

09/30/2018 1:00 pm
09/30/2018 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

Longtime listeners to this program may remember my broadcasts in the late 1980s of the operas of Franz Joseph Haydn. Yes, opera fans, Papa Haydn wrote at least a dozen of them, yet they have remained unknown and unperformed for fully two centuries. With the assistance of the Haydn authority H. C. Robbins Landon, the Hungarian conductor Antal Dorati, who recorded all 104 symphonies, prepared the surviving manuscript scores for a recorded cycle of the Haydn operas for the PHILIPS label. One of the finest of them I broadcast on Sunday, September 25, 1988. La Vera Costanza (1779) is styled in its Italian language libretto a dramma giocosa like Mozart's Don Giovanni. For the studio taping of La Vera Costanza, Dorati conducted the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, with two American sopranos, Helen Donath and Jessye Norman, in the singing cast.

I came across another later recording of La Vera Costanza along with several other Haydn operas in the Brilliant Classics 150 CD compendium "The Haydn Edition." BC issued "The Haydn Edition" in 2008 to commemorate the then upcoming two hundredth anniversary of the composer's death in 2009. There was a studio recording of the dramma giocosa (or opera semiseria?) made in Amsterdam in 1990 with a period instrument ensemble, the Catharijne Consort, directed by Frank van Koten. Surveying the entire Brilliant Classics boxed set for Fanfare magazine, reviewer James H. North says of La Vera Costanza, "The performance is excellent..." and that the finales of the first two of its three acts"...all look forward to Mozart." (Fanfare March/April 2009 issue.) Last featured on this program on Sunday, May 17, 2009, you will hear the Catharijne Consort and the Dutch singing cast again this afternoon.