Opernpasticcio in three acts (1730)
Music by Antonio Vivaldi
Libretto by Domenico Lalli
Concert performance in Italian
Monday, 22 March 2021, 7 pm
He was a priest, but devoted his life entirely to music, played for the pope twice and was accompanied on his travels by the young singer Anna Girò. Even two and a half centuries after his death, Antonio Vivaldi remains a mystery. At the height of his career he was famed throughout Europe, yet when he died in Vienna in 1741 and was buried in a simple grave by the Kärntnertor he had been forgotten by the music world. In the 19th century, Vivaldi was unknown as an opera composer; the first dozen Vivaldi operas were not rediscovered until 1926. He himself claimed in a letter that he had written 94 operas. By 2006, fifty of them were known, although complete copies of only sixteen had been found. The opera Argippo, composed by Vivaldi for Vienna and Prague, was also thought lost up to that point. All that survived were the German translations of the libretti from both performances. In 2006 the Czech conductor Ondrej Macek discovered arias from Argippo in the archives of the Thurn und Taxis family in Regensburg, Bavaria, and their authenticity was confirmed by the scientific board of the Antonio Vivaldi Institute in Venice. In 2008 the first performance of the reconstructed version of Argippo was given and another work was added to the catalogue of Vivaldi operas. And in the library of Darmstadt University, the German musicologist Rashid-Sascha Pegah found a complete but unsigned score for a three-act opera that turned out to be an Argippo pasticcio with at least six Vivaldi arias. The libretto, which had been revised several times, was originally written by Domenico Lalli for Venice in 1717 and tells an exotic love story from faraway India, a land that Venice traded with and whose Great Mogul Aurangzeb had died in 1707. Zanaida, the daughter of the Great Mogul of India, feels betrayed by her former suitor, whom she believes to be the Bengal king Argippo. Close to suicide, she is expecting a visit from Argippo and his wife Osira. In reality, however, Zanaida was seduced by the court counsellor Silvero who posed as Argippo and is now also plagued by feelings of guilt as a result.