RESTORING CAVALLI TO THE THEATRE
IN THE 21ST CENTURY
I. Cavalli could not have been restored to the theater in the 21stcentury if he had not been restored to history in the 20th. That is, prerequisite to the revival of Cavalli's operas was the revival of interest in Cavalli as a composer, and in Venetian opera as a historical subject.
(You can look at the bibliography on the screen as I mention the various authors.)
Already in the 19th century, the first German musicologists recognized Cavalli's importance in the development of opera. They were spurred in their interest by the availability of sources of information going back almost to Cavalli's time itself, many of them published. These included complete annual series of librettos, carefully amassed by collectors, and annotated chronologies based on them. The chronologies of Ivanovich, Bonlini, Groppo, and Allacci, each proporting to correct as it expanded upon its predecessors, established an almost unbroken link between the period they documented and the modern era. The author of the first of these chronologies, Cristoforo Ivanovich, was actually a contemporary of some of the librettists in his catalogue and had even seen some of the works in his list. He evidently supplemented the information he garnered from the librettos themselves with material drawn from more casual or informal sources, as well as by deduction. This is significant with respect to Cavalli, because Ivanovich attributed many more works to him than the evidence provided, and his "errori" were preserved for some three-hundred years, until the early 1970s, in fact, when a young American student, Thomas Walker, undertook to correct them. (I'll speak more about this later.)
The librettos and chronologies were hardly the only documents available to early researchers: indeed, the value of these printed sources was immeasurably increased by the survival of Cavalli's music in manuscript. For this we are indebted to two individuals: the composer himself and the patrician Marco Contarini. Cavalli's remarkable interest in preserving his own works, and probably aided by the fact that he had a copyist in the house (his wife), insured that they would survive him. And the personal collection of over a hundred mostly Venetian opera manuscripts amassed by Marco Contarini, including Cavalli's, was donated to the Biblioteca Marciana in 1843, where they were available for consultation ever since.
The interest of musicologists from the German-speaking world may also have been influenced by the presence in the Vienna Hofbibliothek of manuscript scores of several Venetian operas, including some by Cavalli. But their research was also beholden to Italian scholars (actually, Italian librarians) of the 19th century: Francesco Caffi's study of music at San Marco (1854), based on archival information, contains a substantial chapter on Cavalli in his role as San Marco musician. Even more important, however, was the work of Taddeo Wiel, librarian at the Biblioteca Marciana, who published his catalogue of the Contarini Collection in 1888.
Meanwhile, French musicologists were interested in Cavalli from their own perspective, inspired by his relationship to one of their sacred cows, Lully. Lully's ballets had been included in the production of Cavalli's Xerseand Ercole amante for Paris in 1660 and 1662, and Henry Prunières's extensive research on the documents surrounding Italian productions in Paris (L'Opera en France avant Lulli, 1913) eventually propelled him into the first monograph on Cavalli (1931).
Various early scholars included music in their publications-Egon Wellesz included excerpts from many different operas, as did Prunières, but there was only one attempt to publish an edition of a single work: that was Robert Eitner's publication of the first act of Giasone in 1883 (based on the ms in Vienna)..
As far as performances are concerned, the first "official" one seems to have been that of six operatic excerpts at the Venice Conservatory in March of 1913, under the auspices of Taddeo Wiel. After that, the records are silent (though I would suspect some Cavalli might have been heard at the Paris Conservatoire during these years.) Some sporadic and inconsequential performances took place during the late '50s and early '60s: La Didone, edited by Riccardo Nielson, was performed at the Maggio Musicale in Florence in 1952, under the direction of Carlo Maria Giulini, Le nozze di Peleo e di Teti was staged at La Fenice in Venice in 1959, followed two years later by Ercole amante, conducted by Ettore Gracis. The real beginning of the Cavalli revival, though, occurred in 1967, when Raymond Leppard's edition of Ormindo premiered at Glyndebourne.
But before getting into the question of performances, I'd like to touch on a few more of the critical moments in the development of scholarship on Cavalli's operas.
One was the 1950s, actually 1954, when Simon Townley Worsthorne published his book Seventeenth-Century Venetian Opera (Oxford, 1954). [Though Worsthorne was more interested in the general phenomenon of opera in Venice than in any individual, he couldn't help focusing on Cavalli, the mainstay of the first three decades of Venetian opera.] This was the same year in which Anna Amalie Abert published her doctoral dissertation, Claudio Monteverdi und das musikalische Drama (Lippstadt, 1954). Her work on Cavalli, like that of a number of other scholars as well as performers, was an outgrowth of her interest in Monteverdi, but it resulted in important insight into the musical dramaturgy of Cavalli's operas.
Since the '50s, scholarship on Cavalli has ballooned. I can only mention a few of the path-breaking studies, which have focused on a variety of issues: documents, manuscripts, chronology, attribution, as well as cultural context.
Thomas Walker's fundamental reexamination of the attributions to Cavalli (1976), which reduced his oeuvre by 25%-from 42 to 32-thereby revealing that the 28 extant scores represent most of his work; Jane Glover's 1975 Oxford dissertation on Cavalli at S. Apollinare, which led to a monograph published in 1978, as well as her performance of several of Cavalli's operas, most notably Rosinda and Eritrea (two of the works written for S. Apollinare).
Finally, there was Peter Jeffery's study of Cavalli's autograph scores of1980, which provided solid information about dating, copying procedure, compositional practice, and performance practice.
I do not want to leave anyone out (myself included), but I can't mention all the important work on Cavalli that has been accomplished during the past three decades. (You will be hearing from some of the major players later on today, some of whom were barely-or not even--born in 1967 when the Cavalli revival on stage began.). Here, finally, we get to the question of performances.
The key moment here, as I have said, was 1967. That was the year in which Raymond Leppard conducted his "realization" of Cavalli's Ormindoat Glyndebourne, hard on the heels of a successful production of his edition of Poppea. (When I met him at the Biblioteca Marciana in 1962, Leppard was on a quest for lost Monteverdi operas-he even thought of visiting aristocratic country houses in the environs of Venice to search for uncatalogued manuscripts. Barring any such discoveries, and probably influenced by Worsthorne's book, he was looking for music that resembled Monteverdi's as closely as possible.) This was indeed a crucial moment in the restoration of Cavalli to the theatre. Ormindo was a great success and was revived the following year. Somewhat more quietly, but at the same time, across the pond, the young musicologist and harpsichordist Alan Curtis also presented a Cavalli opera, Erismena (in English) at the University of California, Berkeley. It is probably no coincidence that this effort too had been preceded by Curtis's Poppea (in 1966) (This English Erismena, by the way, was based on the score that is presently under embargo, awaiting an export license here in London.) (The BBC put on a radio performance based on that same English score, edited by Lionel Salter, at around the same time.) Both the Leppard and Curtis productions were soon issued by major record companies (Decca and Vox), thus making Cavalli available for the first time to the record-buying public. While Leppard soon published his score, Curtis never did. [This surely explains the large number of subsequent performances ofOrmindo, as compared with Erismena, which was only revived by Curtis himself in the late '70s at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.]
In keeping with their different performance contexts and aims, theOrmindo and Erismena productions differed vastly from one another. Examples from the two recordings represent the range of performance choices available in the late '60s.
Example 1 (play later): Leppard, Ormindo vs. Curtis, Erismena. (in English).
Leppard himself argued that his editions were intended to bring the laconic scores to life. He treated the manuscripts as if they were incomplete, needing to be "realized" in order to succeed in the theater. Curtis, in contrast, stuck closely (if not completely) to the actual written score.
In listening to the example, you should note first of all, the orchestration, tempi, vocal style, accompanimental style.
Play example 1: Leppard: overture and first "aria"
Curtis: overture and first recit, plus aria
Leppard continued with a succession of works: Calisto (1970), Egisto(1974), and Orione (1983) publishing editions of all but Orione.Ormindoand Calisto were recorded, the others not, but the availability of his editions inspired many opera companies, large and small, to perform these works.
If Leppard's "realizations" for Glyndebourne dominated the 1970s, Rene Jacobs's productions for the Teatre de la Monnaie dominated the '80s. Beginning with Xerse (1985), and Giasone (1988),he moved in the '90s toCalisto (1995), and in this century to Eliogabalo (perf. 2004, not yet released).
For my second example, I'd like to compare Leppard's Calisto with Jacobs's. I've chosen one of the most memorable moments in both productions, Giove's first appearance as Diana. The role of "Giove in Diana" is interpreted differently in the two productions, but it is difficult to say which one is more effective. For his Diana, Leppard had the collaboration of one of the great singing actresses of our time, Janet Baker. Jacobs, on the other hand, had, in Marcello Lippi, a Giove with great range and expressivity-and excellent falsetto. There are still big differences in performance style, many of which emerged during the quarter century that separates the two recordings, but those differences seem less significant than those separating Leppard and Curtis, since Jacobs does a fair amount of "realizing" himself.
Example 2: La Calisto: Leppard and jacobs
At this juncture, the end of 2008, it is difficult to keep track of all the different Cavalli productions in the works Once confined to special festivals, music schools, universities, or provincial opera houses, Cavalli operas can now be seen in mainstream theaters around the world, such as La Scala (two days ago) and Covent Garden (tomorrow). Aside from our own Ivor Bolton, who first conducted La Calisto in Munich in 2005, Fabio Biondi has taken on the Cavalli project with Didone (two years ago in Venice, two nights ago at La Scala), and Virtu (next month, October, in Venice).
I'm not in a position to comment on whether Cavalli's operas have yet been subjected to the pressures of régie oper because I haven't seen enough productions, but I do know that La Didone, has been featured in a multi-media theatrical production by the avant-garde American director Elizabeth LeCompte, in which the opera is set against a science-fiction film from the 1960s, Planet of the Vampires. Some of you may have seen this production, which was recently staged in London. (I can show some excerpts if we have time.)
Slide 2: List of operas
If you look at the list on the screen, you will note that five of Cavalli's 32 operas are lost (they are underlined). Of those remaining, as far as I have been able to determine, all but 6 (or 9 if we count the Minato operas) have received some sort of production. Twelve (nearly half) have been recorded, and editions or facsimiles of 13 are presently available
I'm sure I haven't accounted for all the performances. For instance,Calisto was performed at least 57 different times between 1970 and 1995, mostly in Leppard's edition (it was the only one available until the mid-90s). Now there are two excellent editions available, by two scholars you will hear from later this morning, Jennifer and Alvaro.
There is a strange lacuna in the history of Cavalli editions: a gap of more than half a century separates Eitner's 1883 edition of act 1 of Giasone, undertaken for purely historical reasons, and Leppard's Ormindo of1967. And although Leppard published two further "realizations," ofEgisto (1975), and Calisto (1977), no other editions appeared until the early 2000s (Christopher Mossey's Doriclea, and then the two Calistos). This meant that anyone wishing to produce a Cavalli opera had to rely on Leppard-or else make her own edition. Many conductors did so, chief among them Jane Glover. But not every conductor was equipped to do so.
In comparison with those of later composers, Cavalli's opera scores present special problems: Because they were records of performance, or even used for a particular performance by the composer, who directed from the keyboard, they are spare, lacking information that the composer himself would have supplied in rehearsal, but which subsequent performers would have needed, details that could only have been decided on during the preparation for a performance, when such elements as theater size, available singers and instrumentalists were in place. But even beyond these elements, there is no performing tradition for these works. Cavalli is long dead, and the style of his operas long forgotten. Performance practice relevant to these scores has only gradually developed, thanks to many of the scholars and performers mentioned here. Experience from more recent opera, from opera of the standard repertory, is not transferable to 17th-century works.
Enter Barenreiter: In response to what seems to be a genuine demand for usable scores of these operas, Barenreiter has agreed to publish a first series of 14 operas over the next seven years, with the promise of completing the project after that. (All of us on the program today are involved in this edition.) The purpose of the series is to provide musicologically sound editions designed to be used in productions of all kinds. Even so, certain decisions will need to be left to the conductor. In particular, the conductor will have to decide how to deploy the continuo group, when and where the individual performers need to play. These features were not included in the original scores because they depended on cast, theater size, and availability and skill of particular players.
In establishing a complete edition of Cavalli's works, we hope to be meeting as well as creating a demand. Our editions are conceived as a means of facilitating Cavalli productions by laying out the basic text as clearly as possible as well as realizing the implications of the sources by, for instance, adding string parts or instrumental passages where they were implied but not written.down. Our editions will be directed toward performers trained in standard repertoire, but will also leave space for those individual conductors who are experienced in this repertoire to add the kinds of performance indications they need, such as orchestration for the continuo group.
Slide 3: List of Barenreiter Operas
IV Epilogue: I'd like to close by considering the question, why Cavalli? Granted, having found a formula that attracted and satisfied audiences at the same time, he dominated the Venetian stage for almost half of the seventeenth century, producing at least one, and sometimes two or even three operas in single season. But, after 350 years of silence, why now? What makes Cavalli's operas so appealing at this point in our history? Half a century ago, Leppard was looking for a successor to Monteverdi, for works that would rival the success of Poppea at Glyndebourne. Now, the search is more general: opera theaters, anxious to expand their repertoire, are looking to resurrect old as well as commission new works. In fact, the more people become acquainted with his operas, their well-made plots, their poignant mixture of comic and serious elements, the more they recognize that Cavalli shares important features with contemporary operatic composers. For the Venetian composer, music was heightened rhetoric, the means of communicating the drama of a text. He developed an open-ended speech-song style that spoke directly to an audience, even a naive one: boundaries between speech and song were permeable, not yet fixed by the conventions of recitative and aria. Cavalli's operatic music was designed to create drama by communicating the emotions of characters as vividly as possible. Contemporary opera composers, too, seek a new musical language, one that purposely obliterates distinctions between speech and song, that hews closely to the ebb and flow of the drama without attracting attention to itself as music. What Cavalli invented, or came upon as a natural development of text-music relationships established by composers before him, in various genres, many of today's opera composers aim to retrieve. By exploring both ends of the spectrum, today's opera houses are assuring, or attempting to assure the continuation of a tradition that may not always (or ever) have been profitable, but that, for reasons we can all appreciate, has survived for more than 400 years.
Le nozze di Peleo e di Teti (1639) [Venice 1959]
Gli amori di Apollo e di Dafne(1640) [Bowling Green, Zedda 2004, Garrido 2005] RF
La Didone (1641) [Glover, Fasano 1972, Rousset 1997, Hengelbrock 1998, Garrido 2004, Ignoti Dei 2006, Biondi 2006] RRS
La virtu de'strali d'Amore (1642) [Garrido 2001, Bowling Green 2007, Biondi 2008] S
[Amore innamorato (1642) lost]
Egisto 1643) [Fasano 1970, Hirsch 1973, Leppard, Santa Fe 1974, Peabody, Princeton] RS
Ormindo (1644) [Leppard, Glyndebourne1967, Fasano 1971, Correas 2006] RRS
*Doriclea (1645) S
[Titone (1645) lost]
Giasone (1649) [Panni 1969, Jenkins, New York 1976, Echols, New York 1987, Jacobs 1988, Aspen 2006, Marcon 2007] RSS
[Euripo (1649) lost]
*Oristeo (1651) F
Rosinda (1651) [Glover, Oxford 1973, Potsdam, 2008]
Calisto (1652) [1970-2006: 57 different performances] RRRSSS
Eritrea (1652) [Glover, Wexford 1975]
Orione (1653) [Leppard, Santa Fe 1983, Marcon, Venice 1998]R
*Ciro (1654) [prologue in Jacobs, Xerse]
Xerse (1655) [Jacobs 1985, 2004] RS
Statira(1655) [Florio 2004] R
Erismena (1655) [Curtis 1968, BBC, BAM] R
Artemisia (1656) [Schulze]
Hipermestra (1658) [Utrecht 2006]
[Antioco (1659) lost]
Ercole amante (1662) [Gracis 1961, Corboz 1980 Boston Early Music Festival 1999, Garrido 2006]RR S
*Scipione affricano(1664) F
Eliogabalo (1668) [Crema 1999, Jacobs 2004, Glover, Aspen, 2007) RS
[Massenzio (1673) lost]
Preliminary Cavalli Bibliography
1854 Caffi, Francesco: Storia della musica sacra nella già50s andCappella Ducale di San Marco (Venice: Antonelli, 1854)
1869 Ambros, August Wilhelm:: "Francesco Cavalli," Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 38 (1869), 313-15, 39 (1869), 321-23 (examples from Ercole, Xerse, requiem)
1878 Galvani, Livio Niso (=Giovanni Salvioli): I teatri musicali in Venezia nel secolo XVII (Milan: Ricordi, 1878)
1883 Eitner, Robert, ed.: Giasone, in Publikation aelterer Musik-Werke, Die Oper 2 (Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1883)
1888 Wiel, Taddeo: I codici musicali Contariniani del secolo XVII nella R. Biblioteca di San Marco (Venice: Ongania, 1888)
1892 Kretzschmar, Hermann: "Die venetianische Oper und die Werks Cavalli's und Cesti's," Vierteljahrschrift für Musikwissenschaft 8 (Leipzig, 1892), Heft 1, 1-76
1893 Goldschmidt, Hugo: "Cavalli als dramatischer Komponist-Mit Musikbeleigen," Monatshefte für Musikgeschichte 3-6 (1893)
1907 Kretzschmar, Hermann: "Beiträge zur Geschichte der venetianischen Oper," Jahrbuch Peters (1907)
1912 Wiel, Taddeo: "Francesco Cavalli and His Music for the Theater," The Musical Antiquary
1913 Wellesz, Egon: "Cavalli und der Stil der venetianischen Oper von 1640-1660," inStudien zur Musikwissenschaft, Beihefte der Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Osterreich(1913), 1-57; musical examples, 58-103: Teti, Apollo, Didone, Strali, Doriclea, Giasone, Calisto, Ciro (whole prologue), Artemisia, Ercole, Eliogabalo, Salamone Rossi!
1914 Wiel, Taddeo: "Francesco Cavalli e la sua musica scenica,"Nuovo archivio veneto106-50 biography, list of operas, documents (last will and testament)
1930 Prunières, Henry: Cavalli et l'opéra vénetien au xvii siècle(Paris: Rieder, 1930)
1937: Helmutt Christian Wolff: Die venezianische Oper in der zweiten Hälfte des 17. Jahrhunderts (Berlin, 1937)
1954 Worsthorne, Simon Townley Worsthorne, Seventeenth-Century Venetian Opera (Oxford, 1954)
1954 Abert, Anna Amalie Abert, Claudio Monteverdi und das musikalische Drama (Lippstadt, 1954)
1976 Walker, Thomas: "Gli errori di Minerva al tavolino: osservazioni sulla cronologia delle prime opere veneziane,"in Venezia e il melodrama del seicento, ed. Maria Teresa Muraro (Venice, 1976), 7-20
1979 Glover, Jane: Cavalli (London, 1978)
1980 Jeffery Peter: "The Autograph Manuscripts of Francesco Cavalli," Princeton diss.
1990 Fabbri, Paolo: Il secolo cantante: Per una storia del libretto d'opera nel seicento (Bologna, 1990), 2nd ed. 2004
1991 Rosand, Ellen: Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice: The Creation of a Genre (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1991)
1995 Mancini, Franco, Maria Teresa Muraro, and Elena Povoledo:I teatri del Veneto, vol. 1, Venezia, teatri effimeri e nobili imprenditori(Venice, 1995)
2003 Heller, Wendy: Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women's Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2003)
2006 Glixon, Beth L., and Jonathan Glixon: Inventing the Business of Opera: The Impresario and His World in Seventeenth-Century Venice(New York, 2006)
©Ellen Rosand, Gresham College, 22 September 2008