1280x680_Oper_Konzertant_1516 © beyond/Mara Burmester

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Francesco Bartolomeo Conti started his career in his hometown of Florence as a theorbist, and it was to be a highly successful career that in 1723 earned him the honorary title of “The world’s first theorbist”. In 1701, he became a member of the emperor’s court orchestra in Vienna. However, this prestigious position only served him as a stepping stone to greater creative activity: on his travels he continued his education as a composer and in 1713 Charles VI appointed him court composer. The tragicommedia Don Chisciotte in Sierra Morena was written for the 1719 carnival season and is an entertaining parody of the serious operas of the time. Don Chisciotte, after dubbing himself a knight-errant, has set out to accomplish imaginary heroic deeds. Now, his friends have decided to try to make him see sense. At the same time, the amorous entanglements of two couples are to be resolved. In the end, the only way to bring Don Chisciotte back home is in a cage. But whether this is a satisfactory conclusion is doubtful. The music with which Don Chisciotte’s dream-world is depicted is at any rate more enchanting and modern than those who have confined him.