is the title of several 18th-century opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...
s set to various libretto
A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...
s. The earliest version was written by Lorenzo Morari with music by Antonio Caldara
Antonio Caldara was an Italian Baroque composer.Caldara was born in Venice , the son of a violinist. He became a chorister at St Mark's in Venice, where he learned several instruments, probably under the instruction of Giovanni Legrenzi...
, first performed at the Teatro Sant'Angelo in Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...
in 1703. The best known libretto on this subject, however, was written by Antonio Maria Lucchini
Antonio Maria Lucchini or Luchini was an Italian librettist. His texts were set to music by Antonio Vivaldi, Baldassare Galuppi, Leonardo Vinci, and Rinaldo di Capua, among others.-Libretti:...
and initially set by Leonardo Vinci
Leonardo Vinci was an Italian composer, best known for his operas.He was born at Strongoli and educated at Naples under Gaetano Greco in the Conservatorio dei Poveri di Gesù Cristo. He first became known for his opere buffe in Neapolitan dialect in 1719; he also composed many opere serie...
, with music by Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi , nicknamed because of his red hair, was an Italian Baroque composer, priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice. Vivaldi is recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread over Europe...
(1678–1741), received its first performance in 1727 at the Teatro Sant'Angelo in Venice. Popular at the time, and revived with great success at the Sporck theater
Franz Anton von Sporck, Count was a German-speaking literatus and patron of the arts who lived in the province of Bohemia in what is now the Czech Republic...
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...
in 1730, Vivaldi's Farnace
(RV 711) slipped into oblivion until the last quarter of the 20th century when it emerged from obscurity.
The third Farnace
was composed by Francesco Corselli (1705–1778) (who was born in France as François Courcelle). Corselli's Farnace
received its debut in Madrid at the Royal Theater of the Buen Retiro in 1739. Additional settings continued to be composed as late as the 1780s. One of the best of the later settings is the one composed by Josef Mysliveček
Josef Mysliveček was a Czech composer who contributed to the formation of late eighteenth-century classicism in music...
for the Teatro di San Carlo
The Real Teatro di San Carlo is an opera house in Naples, Italy. It is the oldest continuously active such venue in Europe.Founded by the Bourbon Charles VII of Naples of the Spanish branch of the dynasty, the theatre was inaugurated on 4 November 1737 — the king's name day — with a performance...
in Naples in 1767. Nonetheless, it is mainly the Vivaldi setting that continues to attract interest today.
Characters and voices (Vivaldi setting)
|| First performer
Contralto is the deepest female classical singing voice, with the lowest tessitura, falling between tenor and mezzo-soprano. It typically ranges between the F below middle C to the second G above middle C , although at the extremes some voices can reach the E below middle C or the second B above...
Travesti is a theatrical term referring to the portrayal of a character in an opera, play, or ballet by a performer of the opposite sex. Some sources regard 'travesti' as an Italian term, some as French. Depending on sources, the term may be given as travesty, travesti, or en travesti...
| Maria Maddalena Pieri
|| Anna Maddalena Giraud, also named "la (or Annina) Girò"
A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...
| Angela Capuano Romana, also named "la Capuanina"
|| contralto castrato
A castrato is a man with a singing voice equivalent to that of a soprano, mezzo-soprano, or contralto voice produced either by castration of the singer before puberty or one who, because of an endocrinological condition, never reaches sexual maturity.Castration before puberty prevents a boy's...
| Lorenzo Moretti
|| Lucrezia Baldini
|| soprano castrato
|| Filippo Finazzi
|| contralto castrato
|| Domenico Giuseppe Galletti
The opera tells the story of Pharnaces II
Pharnaces II of Pontus, also known as Pharnaces II was a prince, then King of Pontus and the Bosporan until his death. He was a monarch of Persian and Greek Macedonian ancestry. Pharnaces II was the youngest son and child born to King Mithridates VI of Pontus from his first wife, his sister Queen...
; according to the uses of the time there is no historical accuracy since the fate of Pharnaces is quite different from the one in history books.
Farnace, King of Pontus, has been defeated, and to avoid their falling into the hands of the enemy, he commands his wife, Tamiri, to kill their son and then herself. Tamiri's mother, Berenice, hates Farnace and is in cahoots with Pompey, the Roman victor, to kill him. Selinda, Farnace's sister, is taken captive by the Roman Aquilius, who falls in love with her, as does Berenice's Captain, Gilades. Selinda plays them off one another in an attempt to save her brother. Somehow, it ends happily and everyone is spared.
Jordi Savall i Bernadet is a Catalan viol player, conductor and composer. He has been one of the major figures in the field of Western early music since the 1970s, largely responsible for bringing the viol back to life on the stage...
recorded the Vivaldi opera (during a number of live performances at the Teatro de la Zarzuela
The Teatro de la Zarzuela is a theatre in Madrid, Spain. The theatre is today mainly devoted to zarzuela , as well as operetta and recitals. In the past, in the city's long absence of an opera theatre , this was Madrid's theatre where most major opera performances were shown...
Madrid), combined with a few selections from the Corselli version. Soloists include Sara Mingardo
Sara Mingardo is an Italian classical contralto who has had an active international career in concerts and operas since the 1980s. Her complete recording of Anna in Hector Berlioz's Les Troyens won a Gramophone Award and both the Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording and the Grammy Award for Best...