A concert performance from La Serenissima, sung in Italian
The music of Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello has so far reached very few ears in modern times. It may therefore come as a surprise to find that not only is his music of the very highest standard – fit to rub shoulders with the likes of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi – but also that his only opera is a candidate for the finest baroque opera ever written.
We think that his early career was spent in Venice before he was employed by the Electress of Bavaria as a violinist at the court in Munich. He subsequently moved to the Württemberg court in Stuttgart where he dedicated his opera pastorale to his employer, Duke Eberhard Ludwig, in January 1718.
The theme of the opera is the story of Pyramus (tenor) and Thisbe (soprano) which is best known to modern theatre-goers through Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The ill-fated lovers are joined by two other characters who comment on the proceedings, Licori (contralto) and Alceste (bass). In addition, there is a Chorus who close Acts 1 and 2; the orchestra is made up of strings, recorders oboes, bassoon and horns. The tunes are of the highest quality and the limited amount of recitative ensures that the dramatic pace is strong. The opera concludes most unusually with a recitative which follows a beautiful duet for Tisbe and Pyramo. We are uncertain as to whether a final chorus or even a balletto was supposed to draw an end to the proceedings.