"Atenaide", una ópera de Vivaldi sobre la emperatriz bizantina Atenaida, convertida al cristianismo con el nombre de Elia Eudocia, esposa de Teodosio II. Hoy 29 de diciembre de 1728 se estrena en el Teatro della Pergola de Florencia

Vivaldi nació el 4 de marzo de 1678 en Venecia y murió el 28 de julio de 1741 en Viena.

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29/12/2016
de 11:55 a 11:55

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Atenaide, también llamada Gli affetti generosi (título original en italiano; en español, Atenaida o Los afectos generosos, RV 702) es una ópera en tres actos del compositor Antonio Vivaldi y libretto en italiano de Apostolo Zeno. La historia se basa muy libremente en la historia de la emperatriz bizantina Atenaida, convertida al cristianismo con el nombre de Elia Eudoxia, esposa de Teodosio II. Se estrenó el 29 de diciembre de 1728 en el Teatro della Pergola de Florencia.

Historia
Se trata de la tercera opera compuesta por Vivaldi para el Teatro della Pergola, después de Scanderbeg (1718) e Ipermestra (1727), ambas grandes éxitos de Vivaldi. Con Atenaide el empresario del teatro Luca Casimiro degli Albizzi esperaba volver a tener el mismo éxito en la temporada de 1729. Pero la ópera resultó un fracaso, del que Vivaldi se recuperaría con su siguiente ópera, Catone in Utica.

Esta ópera se representa muy poco; en las estadísticas de Operabase aparece L'Atenaide con sólo una representación en el período 2005-2010.

La ópera es excelente , una muestra del mejor Vivaldi. Merecería una presencia mucho mayor en el repertorio.
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Crítica de la Revista Gramophone

Vivaldi’s setting of Apostolo Zeno’s libretto L’Atenaide was first performed at the Teatro di Via della Pergola in Florence on December 29, 1728, at a time when the new Neapolitan style of Vinci and Porpora was becoming dominant all over Italy. The opera was not well received, with criticism particularly aimed at Vivaldi’s mainstay opera singer Anna Girò. The only surviving complete score of the opera, now in Turin’s Biblioteca Nazionale, contains an extensive revision made in the early 1730s (probably for a projected revival that never took place), but the Pergola theatre is the only Vivaldian opera house that still exists in a fully historical condition. This recording benefits from what Federico Maria Sardelli describes as the venue’s “unchanged, perfect acoustics”. With such a fuss rightly made about bringing Vivaldi’s opera back to the place for which it was composed, one wonders why Naïve did not include at least one picture of the theatre in the chunky booklet.

The essay by Frédéric Delaméa claims that Atenaide displays “deep stylistic originality combined with formidable musical riches”, and his view is supported by this consistently strong performance. Vivica Genaux, Nathalie Stutzmann and Guillemette Laurens all contribute some good dramatic singing, and Romina Basso’s creamy melodic singing is outstanding. In particular, the extraordinary monologue for the title-heroine in Act 3 is magnificently sung by Sandrine Piau. Conductor Sardelli argues that he is “more and more convinced of the need to…protect [Vivaldi] from the deplorable modern tendency to make him into a prodigious purveyor of eccentricities and of rhythmic and dynamic convulsions which are almost invariably arbitrary”. Unlike some of the flashier approaches to Vivaldi by some of the artists involved in Naïve’s compelling series of Vivaldi’s operas, Sardelli’s methods are never extreme for the sake of a cheap thrill. Here we find a sincere attempt to let the story unfold through clearly communicated and simply delivered recitatives and superbly paced arias, and Modo Antiquo play with plenty of vivaciousness and sonority. This performance always seems to have solid and deeply satisfying foundations.

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Crítica de Raymond Tuttle

Naïve's gargantuan series of Vivaldi's music – specifically, scores and manuscripts housed in the National University Library of Turin – continues with another previously unrecorded opera. Atenaide was premièred in the Teatro della Pergola in Florence in 1728, when the composer was 50. Most of Vivaldi's operas were composed for Venice, but his relationship with that city's opera houses waxed and waned, and Atenaide was one of several operas commissioned from him by the Florentine impresario Marchese Luigi degli Albizzi. Vivaldi's relationship with Albizzi was a variable one too, however, and if Vivaldi had better resources on hand in Florence than in Venice, he also had less artistic freedom, and less leeway in engaging the singers he preferred. Indeed, the failure of Atenaide to enjoy great success during its original run has been blamed on the presence of Anna Girò in the role of Pulcheria. She was close to Vivaldi – perhaps even romantically involved with him – but contemporary accounts vary as to the excellence of her singing, and there might have been local bias against her.

When Atenaide was scheduled for revival in Florence a few years later, Vivaldi made changes to the score, adding and removing arias, probably to accommodate changes in the cast. What has been recorded here – authentically enough, in the Teatro della Pergola! – is the revised version of Atenaide, as the original version no longer exists. Both the original and revised versions contain arias that Vivaldi reused from older operas such as Farnace, Orlando furioso, and Dorilla in Tempe. Given the time and place, this was not unusual.
Apostolo Zeno's libretto is a mixture of romantic and political entanglements. The Christian Eudossa, also known as Atenaide, has come to Roman Byzantium from Athens with her father Leontino, and happily expects to wed the Emperor Teodosio. Varane, heir to the Persian throne, also desires Eudossa, and has followed her to Byzantium. Pulcheria, Teodosio's sister, is desired by Marziano, but Teodosio wishes her to marry Varane instead. Teodosio magnanimously allows Eudossa to choose between him and Varane.

Her choice, symbolized by a ring, is connivingly given by Probo (an attendant who also desires Pulcheria) not to Teodosio but to Varane. Eudossa is surprised when she and her father are banished by Teodosio, and then she is kidnapped by Varane. Marziano, a general also in love with Pulcheria, returns in the nick of time to free Eudossa. Probo's subterfuge is uncovered, Marziano gets Pulcheria, Teodosio gets Eudossa, and Varane is forgiven (but apparently is still single).

The score is essentially a series of arias in ABA form separated by secco and accompanied recitatives which advance the plot. Performers of Vivaldi's time were expected to embellish their arias, particularly at the reprise of the "A" section, and that convention is stylishly followed in this recording. All of the characters have several arias. Although the singers are good vocal actors, the longer recitatives can try a listener's patience. For example, after the sinfonia, the opera opens with a seven-minute recitative for Eudossa and Leontino. Atenaide is no slower-going that the average Baroque opera, though, but it feels a little mellower than most – perhaps because there are no supernatural elements involved?

The cast is uniformly excellent, even in the punishing coloratura passages that Vivaldi apparently loved to write. There's a lot of lovely cantabile writing, however, and that plays to this cast's strengths. Piau is vulnerable yet palpably regal as the misunderstood Eudossa, and Genaux also projects royalty as Teodosio – without playing tricks with her voice, she projects a credible masculinity. Laurens and Basso make similar distinctions in their mezzo-soprano roles. Stutzmann brings fruity tone to the general Marziano, who saves the day at the opera's end. Agnew is a calm, concerned father-figure, and Ferrari an impressive hot-head in the role of the opera's true villain. Compared to the other conductors who have conducted operas in Naïve's Vivaldi series, Sardelli is relaxed. The score's lyrical elements are emphasized, not its blazing drama or virtuosity.

The big booklet contains the libretto and translations in several languages, plus an excellent introduction to the opera by Frédéric Delaméa, and artist biographies. The engineering is intimate, and yet it carries a sense of the Pergola's space.

Copyright © 2008 by Raymond Tuttle

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