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date: 06 August 2020

Orazi ed i Curiazi, Gli (‘The Horatii and the Curiatii’)locked

  • Gordana Lazarevich

Extract

(‘The Horatii and the Curiatii’)

Tragedia per musica in three acts by Domenico Cimarosa to a libretto by Simeone Antonio Sografi after Pierre Corneille’s tragedy Horace; Venice, Teatro La Fenice, 26 December 1796.

This opera is based on Corneille’s tragedy (1640); the main difference is in Horatius’s role. In Corneille’s play Horatius is the protagonist, and Curiatius is a secondary character. According to operatic conventions Curiatius, as the partner of the prima donna, had to be sung by the primo uomo (a soprano castrato), while Horatius, as the tenor role, was relegated to a secondary position.

At its première the opera featured an illustrious cast, including Matteo Babbini (Marcus Horatius), Josephina Grassini (Horatia), Girolamo Crescentini (Curiatius) and Carolina Maranesi (Sabina). At the age of 17 Crescentini had appeared in the Rome première of Cimarosa’s L’italiana in Londra; his singing partner, Grassini, appeared in this opera over a period of 20 years. The piece was popular on the European stage for several decades; in Venice alone it had more than 130 performances in six years. Over the years it was considerably altered, and its three acts were compressed to two. For the ...

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