by Garrick Comeaux, Artistic Director
Bernardo Pasquini (1637 –1710) is mostly known today for his keyboard music but was a prolific composer of vocal music which included: 18 Operas, 15 oratorios, over 50 cantatas, and a number of motets. In spite of the success of these works during his lifetime, this repertoire is rarely programmed in concerts today and virtually impossible to find in recordings.
While singing and teaching in Modena, I came across his Sant’Agnese Oratorio manuscript in the beautiful Estense library and we soon recorded it for Pierre Verany – Paris. I later found his Comic Opera Il Tirinto in the same library and discovered that it had been commissioned by an Academy in Ariccia, (south of Rome) where I also taught. It was first performed in Palazzo Chigi in October of 1672.
The Opera is in three acts, with a prologue, an intermezzo between acts two and three and a special added option for concluding the opera. It is set for seven main characters and several others for the prologue and intermezzo and is scored for two violins and basso continuo. The plot is far fetched and at time, resembles the farce of Voltaire’s Candide and decidedly raunchy, but the music is as delightful as only Pasquini could do.
This season’s first production consists of selections of the opera and an informal discussion about the characters and the story that ties them all together. We hope to introduce our audience to the Opera and perform it fully staged in the following season.
As is often the case, this work was sponsored by the Accademia degli Sfaccendati literally translated as Academy of the Good-for-Nothings. Here is how the first page reads:
Dear Discrete Reader,
Read, observe and have pity, and should in the text or in the performance of this drama you hear the voices of God’s of fate, adoration and similar, we pray that you take this as poetic formulas, in the assurance that the Academy of the Good-for-Nothings are made up of poets for pleasure and Catholics for faith.
Live happily, etc.
Filandro, a nobleman from Candia (another name for Crete) found himself alone to raise his two children, a boy named Tirinto and a girl named Rosaura, born of his wife Orfilia. For reasons due to having too many enemies, he was obliged to leave his daughter with an Uncle and went with Tirinto to the farthest, most hidden part of Candia.
He then determined that for better safety, his son should leave the country altogether, so he handed him over to Salucio, (his male wet-nurse). With great secrecy they jumped on a ship and headed toward Lazio (the region of Rome) and traveled full sails until night-time when they were seized by pirates (Corsairs). After a long and valiant defense, their ship was sunk and all drowned except for the three-year-old Tirinto. One of the pirates took him as his slave.
Filandro never had any news about this misfortune, but cried many times the loss of his son. He never ceased to search for the truth, which gave him some consolation that his son might still be alive. He decided to write a circular letter to all those places that pirates frequent with their prey, and addressed it to Salucio and Tirinto, signed Filauro and not Filandro. This way he would not be intercepted by enemies who vigilantly searched for him. Afraid and still not sure to be safe in his hiding place, he left the letter with the Uncle of Rosaura (the brother of Orsilla) and headed off to Lazio.
In the meantime, Tirinto, who was now fourteen years of age, and dearly holding onto the letter that somehow arrived from his father, he quickly escaped from the Pirate with the intention to reach Candia. Finding himself in Lazio, he stayed for two years under the name of Lucimoro, living in Arricia as the lover of Laurinda.
Two years passed and he left for Candia. He desired to find his father where the letter had been written under the name of Filauro a name which was completely unknown in that part as well as all of Candia. He searched for about four years; he was never able to track his father down.
Lucimoro nonetheless decided to establish his home in Candia where he was swept away by love, not knowing that this was his sister Rosaura. Her Uncle however did not want her to marry a foreigner and would not hear of courtship. The Uncle threatened and sought Lucimoro out, obliging him to leave the country. He promised Rosaura to return someday and marry her.
Two more years passed, Rosaura’s Uncle dies and Filandro calls for his daughter to come to Arricia, where he was now Governor of the place where he also brought Lisa la Vecchia his maid to serve him.
Lucimoro in the meantime, had heard nothing whatsoever about Rosaura and worn out from his long travels and bothered by accidents and injuries incurred in the last five years after he left Candia, he found himself once again in Lazio. He decided to make his home on Monte Cavo and as caretaker of the Great Altar of Jupiter (l’Ara Massima di Giove) where he would end his days.
Act One begins where this story left off. Here Lucimoro has the chance to connect again with Laurinda, after 10 years since he had departed from Lazio.
In addition to the three acts, a prologue is set in Piazza Navona in Rome, where some shady characters are meeting to go up to the small town in the southern hills of Rome called Arricia, to see the Opera!
An intermezzo is set between Act Two and Three. Here to men sitting in a Pharmacy (la Spetiaria or today’s common Italian street-side bar) are giving the performance of the Opera anything but a glowing review. Lisa la Vecchia overhears their discussion and brings the intermezzo to a dramatic close.
In an incident with a bear in the forest, (yes, there is a bear) Celindo is saved by Lucimoro and they become good friends. Lucimoro of course finally runs into Rosaura again and after only a few minor accidents, he is recognized by Filandro as Tirinto, his long lost son.
The Third Act of the Opera ends here.
An aggiunto se piace (to add if you like) is also provided, since Lisa is not happy with the outcome of the opera, she returns to the stage to discuss with the concert master her desire to have a Ballo a cavallo (a Horse Dance). They do and this time the Opera really comes to an end.
The Opera Cast
Dates: Friday, October 17 – 7:30pm / Sunday, October 19 – 2:00pm 2014
Venue: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church * 901 Portland Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55104
Tickets: click here