Scintillating Vivaldi from I Barocchisti

Vivaldi: Dorilla in Tempe

Romina Basso (Dorilla), Serena Malfi (Elmiro), Marina de Liso (Nomio), Lucia Cirillo (Filindo), Sonia Prina (Eudamia), Christian Senn (Admeto), I Barocchisti, Diego Fasolis

Dorilla in Tempe was premiered at the Teatro San Angelo in Venice on 9 November 1726¹. It was the thirty-third of over fifty operas written by Vivaldi and is based on an Italian libretto by Antonio Maria. Tempe is a valley in northern Thessaly, Greece. The plot is a mix of two classical legends Apollo slaying the Python and Perseus rescuing Andromeda from the rock.

To summarise the plot Nomio (who is Apollo in disguise banished to earth by Zeus for killing the Cyclops) is in love with Drusilla, daughter of King Admeto, who has been constrained to offer her as sacrifice to the sea monster; Nomio slays it (which takes him all of 30 seconds) and saves her; but she is ungrateful and elopes with her lover, the shepherd Elmiro, with disastrous consequences. So far so clear: the complications set in because Elmiro is loved by the nymph Eudamia, with whom, however, another shepherd, Filindo, is enamoured.²

This recording, part of Naive’s Vivaldi Edition³, is a most welcome addition to the catalogue. I seem to recall a somewhat unsatisfactory release of Dorilla in Tempe in the mid-1990s from Gilbert Bezzina and the Nice Baroque Ensemble and Nice Opera Chorus. This is an altogether different proposition from Diego Fasolis and I Barocchisti, who have given us a number of fine Vivaldi recordings. Despite thi s Listeners will immediately notice that Vivaldi quotes the ”Spring” theme from his Four Seasons (which had been published a little earlier) in the introductory sinfonia and, again in the opening chorus. This is a splendid performance with outstanding singing from the five female soloists and from the choir, who have a prominent role in this opera. Give it a listen and you will soon be drawn in to the emotional twists and turns of Princess Dorilla in her valley of Tempe, Greece.

We have no hesitation in awarding this vibrant new recording of the 1734 pastoral opera Dorilla in Tempe five stars and making it our CD of the Month. The Vivaldi Edition is back!

iClassical rating: 

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¹ The original score of Dorilla is lost, so the present recording uses the revised version from a decade later, which is actually a pasticcio opera: it’s not all Vivaldi. By the 1730s Neapolitan operas were becoming very popular, so Vivaldi asked various Neapolitan composers to write arias as replacements for some of his original music. This practice was not uncommon at the time: Handel was doing much the same in London.

² Thanks to Lionel Salter for this summary.

³ The mission of the Vivaldi Edition Project is to record all 450 works that have been housed in the National Library in Turin since 1930 – much of it unknown, but above all the operas .