JacobsAlthough countertenor-turned-conductor René Jacobs has long been one of the most important figures in 17th and 18th century opera, his appearances in the U.S. have been few, so “Trove Thursday” steps in with one of Jacobs’s favorite and rarest rediscoveries, Francesco Conti’s marvelous Don Chisciotte in Sierra Morena from 1719. 


Conti (1681?-1732) was a well-known composer and mandolin virtuoso in his day but lapsed into relative obscurity until Jacobs revived Don Chisciotte at the 1992 Innsbruck Festival, the source of this broadcast recording. Since then, a few others have taken up Conti—Alan Curtis recorded his oratorio David with Simone Kermes and Marjana Mijanovic, and worth searching out is a CD (now out-of-print) of cantatas gorgeously sung by Bernarda Fink.

Jacobs has a large and wide-ranging discography on Harmonia Mundi but for some reason he never recorded Conti’s opera despite his obvious fondness for it. He has returned to it a number of times—at the 2005 Innsbruck Festival, a staging at the Dutch National Opera in 2010 with Stéphane Degout taking over the title role and an international tour just last year with B’Rock Orchestra.

Like Cesti’s Il Tito, another performance from the Innsbruck Festival, this Don Chisciotte features Jeffrey Gall and Derek Lee Ragin, two superb American countertenors sadly underrepresented on commercial recordings, joined by the always-entertaining Dominique Visse.

2015 saw many celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the publication of the final volume of Cervantes’s El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, and Lyric Opera of Chicago pays belated tribute in November with a revival of Massenet’s Don Quichotte starring Ferruccio Furlanetto.

Before then though, “Trove Thursday” will present yet another rarely-heard Don Quixote opera this summer.

In the meantime Jacobs finally returns this summer to New York for the first time in a decade. During Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival he will conduct the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and the Arnold Schoenberg Choir in a concert staging of Idomeneo, featuring Alex(andrina) Penda(atchanska), also lately seen far too little in these parts, as Elettra. Nicholas Rivenq, Jacobs’s Don Chisciotte in today’s podcast, will sing the High Priest of Nepture.

Conti: Don Chisciotte in Sierra Morena
Innsbruck Festival
August 1992

Jennifer Smith — Dorotea
Audrey Michael — Lucinda
Isabelle Poulenard — Maritorne
Judith Vindevogel — Ordogno
Jeffrey Gall — Fernando
Derek Lee Ragin — Cardenio
Dominique Visse — Rigo
Gerd Türk — Lope
Nicolas Rivenq — Don Chisciotte
Michael Schopper — Sancio Panza
Paolo Calabresi — Mendo

Concerto Köln
René Jacobs — conductor

“Trove Thursday” offerings can be downloaded via the audio-player above. Just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

In addition, Conti’s opera, last week’s Passion with Natalie Dessay and all previous fare remain available from iTunes or via any RSS reader.