Rediscovering a forgotten musical gem at the Bayreuth Baroque Opera Festival.
On 16th September, amidst the aura of the Bayreuth Baroque Opera Festival, the curtains were lifted on a long-hidden musical gem that Dr. Anna Trombetta and I had transcribed and revised. This piece, titled "Mentre ti lascio, o figlia" by Tommaso Traetta, is a magnificent composition extracted from the "Disfatta di Dario", first performed in 1778 in Venice.
This concertante aria stands out for its rich orchestration, where the flute, oboe, bassoon, and horn take centre stage, weaving an intense musical dialogue. Maestro Daniel Behle, blessed with a warm voice, did justice to the emotional depth of the aria, performing it masterfully last Saturday at the MARKGRÄFLICHES OPERNHAUS in Bayreuth.
The synergy between Behle and the Cologne orchestra, expertly conducted by Evgenii Sviridov, electrified the listeners. The palpable enthusiasm of the audience, which filled the hall, came as no surprise, with resounding applause marking their appreciation for this modern rendition. It's evident that people recognise the importance of unearthing and valuing pieces of our often-forgotten musical heritage.
For those who missed the spectacle, there's good news. The concert will be repeated this evening, once again at the MARKGRÄFLICHES OPERNHAUS in Bayreuth. It's a second opportunity to immerse oneself in the vibrant melodies of Italian Neoclassicism and be swept away by the magic of an era cherished by true music lovers.
Bayreuth Baroque Opera Festival Presents: Kings of Bravura
At the esteemed Markgräfliches Opernhaus Bayreuth on Saturday, 16th September, a night of unparalleled musical mastery awaits. The illustrious tenor, Daniel Behle, will deliver two splendid arias by Antonio Tozzi and Luigi Gatti. These arias, revived for a contemporary audience, have been diligently transcribed, curated, and revised by myself, Luca Bianchini, and musicologist Dr. Anna Trombetta. This programme, christened "Kings of Bravura," guarantees a soiree of musical brilliance.
Lending their esteemed talents to this performance, the Concerto Köln orchestra will accompany Maestro Behle, enhancing the richness of the evening's repertoire. This rendezvous promises to be a standout event of the Bayreuth Baroque Opera Festival, presenting aficionados with the rare chance to relish these masterful arias in today's context. A night not to be missed for those passionate about baroque grandeur and vocal excellence.
Antonio Tozzi and Mozart's Perceptions of Italians: A Historical Musical Retrospective
What did the Mozarts think of Italians?
We've transcribed an Aria by Antonio Tozzi for the upcoming Bayreuth Baroque Opera Festival, titled "Pensa che in campo armato," derived from Rinaldo. This piece has been revised and enhanced with cadenzas, consistent with the stylistic nuances of that era. After centuries of obscurity, it will be showcased at the Bayreuth Baroque Opera Festival 2023.
Antonio Tozzi, sadly forgotten in his home country of Italy, remains a towering figure in the world of classical music. His early musical formation was under the guidance of Giovanni Battista Martini and at the Accademia Filarmonica in Bologna. By 1762, he made his debut in Venice. One of his earliest celebrated works was "La morte di Dimone, ossia l'Innocenza Vendicata" from 1763.
In his prime, Tozzi was hailed as one of the preeminent composers across Europe. By 1774, he had ascended to the role of Maestro di cappella in Munich, where he unveiled his opera "Orfeo ed Euridice." However, a scandal involving his affair with Countess Seefeld compelled his return to Italy. This incident did not escape the scathing commentary of Leopold Mozart.
Mozart's father cast aspersions on the reputation of Italians, disparaging an entire nation, thereby influencing the Salzburg populace's perception:
"You can narrate the tale of Tozzi and Countess Seefeld anywhere; it'll show people that these Italian rogues are rascals wherever they go," he penned in a 1775 letter. Evidently, Leopold's resentment was fuelled by the appointment of Fischietti as the Maestro di Cappella in Salzburg over himself. Leopold was perpetually destined to be the second fiddle.
Post the "Rinaldo" performance in Venice, Tozzi migrated to Spain in 1776. In Madrid and Barcelona, he not only crafted his own works like "I gemelli Castore e Polluce" but also oversaw the productions of renowned composers like Martín y Soler and Cimarosa. By 1783, he assumed the helm at Teatro Santa Cruz in Barcelona. His tenure there, lasting until 1805, solidified his legendary status before he eventually returned to Bologna.
Antonio Tozzi's compositions are a sheer auditory delight, spanning playful dramas to serious operas infused with heroic-mythological themes. His musical prowess, both melodic and dramatic, is evident, favouring a robust orchestration. He often entrusted pivotal roles to string instruments, as discernible in the exquisite Aria that the distinguished Maestro Daniel Behle will render next Saturday at the Markgräfliches Opernhaus Bayreuth, harmoniously accompanied by the Cologne orchestra, under the direction of Evgenii Sviridov.
Rediscovering Italian Musical Treasures in Bayreuth
It's easy to fall into the trap of associating classical music almost solely with names like Mozart, but the musical landscape offers hidden gems that deserve to be rediscovered. And sometimes, paradoxically, one needs to venture outside of Italy's borders to rekindle an appreciation for our very own musical compatriots.
Bayreuth, primarily celebrated for Wagner's works, is this year's backdrop for such a musical reawakening. Two arias, transcribed for the first time in the modern era, will take center stage at the concert on Saturday, 16th September. With the talents of Maestro Daniel Behle and the accompaniment of the Orchestra Concerto Köln, these arias — "Pensa che in campo armato" by Antonio Tozzi and "Puoi vantar le tue ritorte" by Luigi Gatti — represent the pinnacle of Italian music of their times.
Dr. David Treffinger, in his program notes for the concert, astutely picked up on some observations from my previous post. He underscored the often dismissive attitude of Leopold Mozart, whom he termed the perennial "Italian-basher", tarring those "welsche" Italians as rascals. Among those criticized by the Mozarts were both Luigi Gatti and Antonio Tozzi.
Audiences in Bayreuth will read in the concert program about the foreign recognition of great Italian musicians. For instance, a plaque in Salzburg states, "The musician and composer Luigi Gatti lived here and was the last court Kapellmeister in Salzburg."
Yet, to rediscover Tozzi and Gatti, one must journey to Bayreuth, not Italy. Back home, 'Tozzi' is more commonly associated in Italy with the name Umberto, singer-songwriter and guitarist, and 'Gatti' (which means cats in Italian) simply refers to the endearing feline companions that keep us company. It serves as a poignant reminder that sometimes we must look beyond our own shores to truly appreciate the breadth and depth of our cultural legacy.