The 2017 Glyndebourne Festival opens on Saturday with the UK premiere of L’Ipermestra conducted by William Christie and directed by Graham Vick. Even for a Cavalli opera, it’s a real rarity but fear not as “Trove Thursday” offers a preview—a live broadcast of the complete work featuring La Sfera Armoniosa conducted by Mike Fentross.
Glyndebourne uses the alternate title Hipermestra for the opera which tells a story drawn from Greek myth in which a king attempts to thwart an oracle that predicted he would die by the hand of his son-in-law. He thus commands his 50 (!) daughters to kill their husbands on their wedding night. All do so except for Hipermestra who has fallen hopelessly in love with hers. Anguished complications ensue (leavened by comic interludes as is often the case in Cavalli) until an inescapable lieto fine–happy ending.
The 31st of Cavalli’s 41 operas, it premiered not in Venice where nearly all of his opera originated but in Florence in 1658 but disappeared until the 21st century including this 2006 performance from the renowned Early Music Festival in Utrecht. Not only did Cavalli’s setting of the story vanish but so have the many versions of Metastasio’s L’Ipermestra first done by Hasse in 1744. Gluck, Myslive?ek, Paisiello and even Mercadante as late as 1827 composed variations on the Metastasio libretto, but I don’t know of a modern revival of any although arias by Pasquale Cafaro (1751)
and Piccinni (1772)
have been recently programmed by Franco Fagioli and Patrizia Ciofi respectively.
The Glyndebourne production stars the lovely Hungarian soprano Emöke Baráth in the title role and Italian countertenor Raffaele Pé as her husband Linceo.
Both are conducted by Leonardo Garcia Alarcón. In addition to Pé, a number of young countertenors can be heard in these productions: Carlo Vistoli and Jakob Jósef Orli?ski in Aix and Fagioli and Valer Sabadus in Amsterdam.
Pé is also featured on an appealing recent CD of Cavalli arias and duets with Giulia Semenzato and La Venexiana on the Glossa label, while countertenor Xavier Sabata joins with Raquel Andueza on “Miracolo d’amore” an all-Cavalli follow-up to her admirable Cesti collection “Alma mia;” both CDs also feature the ensemble La Galania.
I haven’t heard the latter yet but am looking forward to it.
Holland Festival Early Music, Utrecht
24 September 2006
Ipermestra — Elena Monti
Elisa — Gaële Le Roi
Linceo — Emanuela Galli
Berenice — Marcel Beekman
Delmiro — Fabian Schofrin
Arbante — Mark Tucker
Danao — Sergio Foresti
La Sfera Armoniosa
Conductor — Mike Fentross
To download L’Ipermestra, just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.