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date: 29 March 2020

Anima del filosofo, L’ [L’anima del filosofo, ossia Orfeo ed Euridice (‘The Spirit of the Philosopher, or Orpheus and Eurydice’)]locked

  • Mary Hunter

Extract

[L’anima del filosofo, ossia Orfeo ed Euridice (‘The Spirit of the Philosopher, or Orpheus and Eurydice’)]

Dramma per musica in four or five acts by Joseph Haydn to a libretto by Carlo Francesco Badini; Florence, 9 May 1951.

This opera, commissioned by Johann Peter Salomon in 1791 for the reopening of the King’s Theatre in the Haymarket, London, was never performed in Haydn’s lifetime. The project fell through when George III denied a licence to Sir John Gallini, the impresario of the theatre, and no other arrangements were made to stage the work. It is not certain whether the opera is complete. The sources indicate only four acts, but Haydn’s letter of 14 March 1791 indicates that five were intended. In the modern edition in Haydn’s complete works the last scene of the fourth act is designated as Act 5. The meaning of the work’s title is obscure; neither the identity of ‘the philosopher’ nor his relevance to the story of Orpheus and Eurydice has been explained. The most likely candidate for the role of philosopher is Creonte [Creon], whose first-act aria is among the more philosophical texts in the piece, but that leaves open the relevance of his spirit to the rest of the opera....

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