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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Campra: Le Carnaval de Venise

08/12/2012 1:00 pm
08/12/2012 4:30 pm


Host Keith Brown writes:

I normally would not program an opera of the the French baroque at this time of year, since so many of them are tragédies lyriques. Andre Campra (1660-1744), successor to the great Lully, composed his share of them. Campra's Le Carnaval de Venise, however, is in the the more progressive sub-genre he created, the opera-ballet, with plenty of dance sequences.

In these curiously comic stageworks mythological subjects and characters are treated with ironic glee. Campra cleverly crafted Le Carnaval de Venise (1699) as an opera-within-an-opera. He contrasts the Lullian French style with the Italian opera seria. The two lead characters, attending the famed Venetian public celebrations, duck into a theater where a performance of an operatic tragedy Orfeo nell'Inferi is in progress, sung in Italian language.

What I presume is the world premiere recording of Le Carnaval de Venise came out through the Spanish label Glossa in 2011 on two compact discs. French baroque specialist Hervé Niquet directs the chorus and orchestra of Le Concert Spirituel, a musical organization he founded in 1987. The orchestra is a period instrument outfit, and according to Fanfare magazine's reviewer Barry Brenesal, it's first rate. So are the half dozen vocal soloists. ". . . this is one of the best releases in Glossa's series of French Baroque opera, " (Fanfare, Jan/Feb, 2012 issue).