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Cat. No. CHAN 10355(2) Price: £5 No. of discs: 2
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CHAN 10355 - d'Avalos: Maria di Venosa
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Available From: 12 September 2005
The composer writes: My musical education is grounded mainly in the symphonic tradition of central Europe, and I am as close to symphonic music as I am far from the music of opera, though I appreciate the latter. Italian opera achieved its equilibrium in the division between recitative and aria, action and expression, in the eighteenth century. Increasingly thereafter, the libretto, set to music in its entirety, was reduced to a position of secondary importance, the recitatives, which once had helped in the understanding of the plot, eventually disappeared completely, and it became almost impossible to obtain a sense of the stage action, even to make out the words. Opera became assimilated to the idea of absolute music in so far as the musical fabric, predominating over the libretto, asserted itself as an autonomous structure.

These considerations drove me to conceive a musical drama without a libretto in the traditional sense, in which the stage action unfolds as in a silent film, and the orchestra, chorus and a few solo parts take the place of the words. The characters act, but do not sing; and when they do sing it is in situations in which they might do so also in real life. This is what occurs in Maria di Venosa, a tragic opera based on episodes in the life of the composer Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa. The libretto is conceived contemporaneously with the music and shaped uniquely to unite with it, a principle that allows musical dramas to assume very different forms. My opera, partially adopting the technique of the leitmotiv as a unifying device, and also interpolating pieces by Gesualdo and some of his contemporaries, is conceived as though it were an instrumental composition, even if incorporating voices, and may be listened to as pure form, on a par with a symphony. As such, Maria di Venosa has no parallel among other theatrical works, but enters also into the main stream of the western musical tradition, especially as this evolved during the nineteenth century.
Reviews

While the music is not strictly tonal, it is hardly radical – in fact, much of it is quite lovely and extraordinarily effective… The musical forces perform with exceptional clarity and opulent sound.
American Record Guide

 

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