Three weeks ago “Trove Thursday” presented Mozart’s Lucio Silla and today we have Bach’s—Johann Christian Bach’s, that is—featuring Julia Varady and Sylvia Geszty as its star-crossed lovers.
Tomorrow the Met unveils its new production of Manon Lescaut, a rare instance of two operas on the same subject (Puccini’s melodrama and Massenet’s Manon) have both remained in the standard repertoire. Leoncavallo’s La Bohème and Meyerbeer’s Semiramide, on the other hand, haven’t been so lucky.
In the 18th century the same plot and even the same libretto were set over and over again—more than 60 operas alone are based on Metastasio’s L’Olimpiade. In the next few months “Trove Thursday” will feature several pairs of operas—not all of them from the 18th century—about the same characters, or in this case, written to the same text—by Giovanni Da Gamerra.
Johann Sebastian’s youngest surviving son, J.C. Bach was often known as “The English Bach” or “The London Bach.” Of all of Bach’s composer-sons, J.C. was the one most involved with opera, and his stage works are still occasionally revived, with recordings of both Zanaida and Amadis de Gaule, his final opera (written in French), released in just the past several years. Phlippe Jaroussky also put out a collection of the composer’s arias for castrato.
J.C. Bach’s Lucio Silla, composed for Mannheim just three years after Mozart’s, was performed as recently as 2013 during Salzburg’s Mozartwoche alongside a stage revival of Mozart’s and excerpts from Pasquale Anfossi’s.
Germany’s Schwetzinger Festival has long been known for its revivals of rare 17th and 18th century operas—this year it will present Cavalli’s Veremonda, l’amazzone di Aragona. This broadcast features one of the earliest recordings I’ve found of the great Varady who soon after sang the trouser role of Cecilio in Leopold Hager’s marvelous recording (currently out-of-print) of Mozart’s Lucio Silla opposite the spectacular Giunia of Arleen Auger.
Johann Christian Bach: Lucio Silla
23 May 1974 Broadcast
Giunia: Julia Varady
Cecilio: Sylvia Geszty
Celia: Gerti Zeumer
Lucio Silla: Carlo Gaifa
Lucio Cinna: Roland Hermann
Conductor: Günter Kehr
Trove Thursday offerings can now be downloaded via the audio-player on their page. Just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.