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Griselda(ii) [La Griselda]locked

  • Malcolm Boyd

Extract

Dramma per musica in three acts by Alessandro Scarlatti (see Scarlatti family, §1) to a libretto, possibly by Prince Francesco Maria Ruspoli, after Zeno, Apostolo; Rome, Teatro Capranica, January 1721.

Griselda (illustration overleaf; for details of the plot see Griselda) is the last of Scarlatti’s operas to survive complete, and musically, if not dramatically, it is a richly satisfying work. The leading roles were taken by castratos: Griselda, Costanza and Roberto by sopranos, Gualtiero and Ottone by altos; Corrado was sung by a tenor. After the conventional three-movement ‘Italian’ overture the basic musical constituent is the recitative-aria unit, but many of the arias are imposing pieces, accompanied mostly by full strings, often with woodwind support, and there is some prominent writing for two horns, in the embarkation scene in Act 1, the hunting scene in Act 2, and the garden scene in Act 3. Unusually in such a late work, Scarlatti accompanies the recitatives, after the first four bars, with continuo only until the strings return in the final scene to add fervour to Griselda’s last and successful plea for Gualtiero’s mercy....

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