- Stephen Shearon
Dramma per musica in three acts by Leonardo Leo to a libretto by Antonio Salvi after Jean Racine ’s play Andromaque; Naples, Teatro di S Carlo, 4 November 1742.
Andromaca was the alternative title of Salvi’s libretto Astianatte. Leo’s setting – his penultimate opera seria – was performed for the name-day of King Charles III. The opera represents a decisive advance in the composer’s powers of dramatic expression. The stylistic language is leaner and simpler, but more profound, than that found in his earlier works. In addition to powerfully emotive accompanied recitatives one finds choruses and marches; modified da capo arias are the norm, but where the drama requires greater flexibility it is given; and the use of orchestration and dynamics is more sophisticated than in L’olimpiade of only five years before. As in L’olimpiade, Leo employed his students from the conservatory of S Maria della Pietà dei Turchini to sing the simple choruses, unusual in any form in Neapolitan opera....