University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Porpora: Il Gedeone

03/24/2019 1:00 pm
03/24/2019 4:30 pm

 

Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

Oratorio as a musical genre is Italian in origin, and the development of the Italian sacred oratorio paralleled that of the Italian baroque opera seria. They were twin sisters stylistically, so when Lent came and Italian opera houses closed for the duration, the staged sister artform simply switched places with the unstaged form of the same music.

One excellent specimen of the Italian baroque oratorio is Nicola Porpora's Il Gedeone, which was commissioned for performance during Holy Week of 1737 before the Imperial Court of the Hapsburgs in Vienna. The oratorio tells the Old Testament story of Gideon, the righteous judge and military hero of the Israelites. Porpora's musical handling of the libretto is as emotional and dramatic as what he did for any opera seria. Il Gedeone was recorded in Vienna for release in 1999 through the German CPO record label. Martin Haselbock directs the Wiener Akademie period instrument ensemble and the Vokalensemble Nova, with countertenor Kai Wessel heard in the title role. I last broadcast Il Gedeone on Sunday, April 2, 2000.