Gaspare Spontini
Gaspare Spontini, in full Gaspare Luigi Pacifico Spontini (born Nov. 14, 1774, Maiolati, Papal States [Italy]—died Jan. 24, 1851, Maiolati), Italian composer and conductor whose early operas, notably his masterpiece, La vestale (1807), represent the spirit of the Napoleonic era and form an operatic bridge between the works of Christoph Gluck and Richard Wagner.

Entering the Conservatorio della Pietà dei Turchini in Naples in 1793, he studied music with Nicola Sala and Giacomo Tritto; he left before completing his studies, however. His first opera, Li puntigli delle donne (“The Obstinacy of Women”), was performed in Rome in 1796. Its success led him to continue writing comic operas for Rome, Venice, Florence, Naples, and Palermo—the most famous was L’eroismo ridicolo (1798; “Ridiculous Heroism”), which brought him to the attention of Dominico Cimarosa. He moved to Paris and in 1799 saw a successful revival of La finta filosofa (“The Fake Female Philosopher”); he established himself there with Milton (1804). Influenced by French composers, Spontini developed the dramatic composition La vestale (“The Vestal Virgin”) that established his European reputation. He became conductor of the Italian Opera in 1810 but left two years later for political reasons (he remained loyal to Joséphine even after her divorce from Napoleon) and became the court composer to Louis XVIII in 1814. He left Paris in 1819 after the failure of his opera Olimpie. In 1820 he received an appointment from Frederick William III of Prussia as director of music at Berlin, where growing German partisanship placed him under constant attack in the musical press. Nevertheless, the appointment lasted until shortly after the king’s death in June of 1840, when political intrigue forced Spontini to relinquish his duties and leave Berlin, barely escaping a prison sentence. Except for a successful revival of La vestale in Dresden, Ger. (1844), his career was essentially over.

Additional significant operas by Spontini include La fuga in Maschera (1800; “The Masked Flight”), Olimpie (1819), Nurmahal (1822), Alcidor (1825), and Agnes von Hohenstaufen (1829).

Encyclopædia Britannica
"La vestale" - 1807

La vestale (The Vestal Virgin) is an opera composed by Gaspare Spontini to a French libretto by Étienne de Jouy. It was first performed on 15 December 1807 by the Académie Impériale de Musique (Paris Opera) at the Salle Montansier, and is regarded as Spontini's masterpiece. The musical style shows the influence of Gluck and looks forwards to the works of Berlioz, Wagner and French Grand Opera.

Composition history
Spontini had finished La vestale by the summer of 1805 but had faced opposition from leading members of the Opéra and rivalry from fellow composers. The premiere was made possible with the help of Spontini's patron, the Empress Josephine, but only after being rearranged by Jean-Baptiste Rey and Louis-Luc Loiseau de Persuis. La vestale was an enormous success, enjoying over two hundred performances by 1830.

Performance history
Its fame soon spread abroad; it first appeared on the Italian stage in Naples in 1811, and it was performed in Stockholm in 1823. It was premiered in the United States in French at Théâtre d'Orléans in New Orleans on 17 February 1828. Important 20th-century revivals include the 1954 production at La Scala with Maria Callas in the title role, which was the first opera staging by the famous film director Luchino Visconti. La vestale is famous in historical terms but is only very infrequently performed. Two of its arias (translated to Italian and recorded by Maria Callas and Rosa Ponselle), "Tu che invoco" and "O Nume tutelar", are better known than the work as a whole. In recognition of its role in the development of Richard Wagner's third opera, Rienzi, it was performed in concert form in Dresden's Semperoper in the Summer of 2013.


Act 1
Returning to Rome after a victorious campaign, Licinius finds his beloved Julia has become a priestess of Vesta. Although Julia attempts to avoid going to Licinius's triumph, she is delegated to present him with a wreath. He tells her that he intends to kidnap and reclaim her.

Act 2
In the temple of Vesta, Julia guards the eternal flame and prays to be freed of temptation. Licinius arrives; during their rapturous reconciliation, the flame expires. Licinius is advised by Cinna to flee. Julia is interrogated by the High Priest but refuses to name Licinius. She is sentenced to death for licentiousness.

Act 3
Despite the pleas of Licinius, Julia is to be buried alive; even when he admits his intrusion to the Temple, Julia claims not to recognise him. A thunderstorm ensues, during which lightning reignites the sacred flame. Recognising this as a sign from the Gods, the High Priest and Vestal Priestess release Julia who is then married to Licinius.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spontini: La Vestale. Montserrat Caballé. Liceu 1982. Full opera.
Nunzio Todisco (Licinio)
Montserrat Caballé (Giulia)
Vicente Sardinero (Cinna)
Graziano Monachesi (Gran sacerdote)
Bruna Baglioni (Gran Vestale)
Ramón Gajas (Console)
Jesús Castillón (Arexpex)
Carlo Felice Cillario (Conductor)
Gran Teatre del Liceu. Barcelona. December, 29. 1982.
La Vestale - Gaspare Spontini
La Grande Vestale - Denyce Graves
Licinius - Anthony Michaels-Moore
Cinna - J Patrick Raftery
Le Souveraine Pontife - Dimitri Kavrakos
Julia - Karen Huffstodt
Le Chef des Auspices - Aldo Bramante

Conductor - Riccardo Muti
Orchestra - Teatro alla Scala
Chorus - Teatro alla Scala

Gaspare Spontini - Ouverture La Vestale (1807)
Ouverture La Vestale (1807)

The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gustav Kuhn

Maria Callas - La Vestale - Tu che invoco con orrore (part1) (Hamburg 1959)
Tu che invoco con orrore (La Vestale, act 2)
Sinfonieorchester des Norddeutschen Runfunks
Conducted by Nicola Rescigno
Hamburg 1959
Maria Callas - La Vestale - Tu che invoco con orrore (part2) (Hamburg 1959)
Gaspare Spontini: Olimpia - Milano, 1966 (Lorengar, Cossotto, Tagliavini; dir. Molinari-Pradelli)
Olimpia: Pilar Lorengar
Statira: Fiorenza Cossotto
Cassandro: Franco Tagliavini
Antigono: Giangiacomo Guelfi
High Priest: Nicola Zaccaria
Hermas: Silvio Majonica
Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala
dir. Francesco Molinari-Pradelli
rec. June 6th 1966.
"Fernand Cortez" - 1809

Fernand Cortez, ou La conquête du Mexique (Hernán Cortés, or The Conquest of Mexico) is an opéra in three acts by Gaspare Spontini with a French libretto by Etienne de Jouy and Joseph-Alphonse d’Esmenard. It was first performed on 28 November 1809 by the Académie Impériale de Musique (Paris Opera) at the Salle Montansier.


Background and performance history

The opera was originally intended as political propaganda to support the Emperor Napoleon's invasion of Spain in 1808. Cortez symbolises Napoleon while the bloodthirsty Aztec priests are meant to represent the Spanish Inquisition. The emperor himself is said to have suggested the theme of the opera to Spontini and the premiere was held in his presence. The popularity of the piece declined with the waning of the French army's fortunes in Spain.

The 1809 premiere was famous for its spectacular effects, including the appearance of 17 live horses on stage. Critics complained about the adventurous harmony and the loudness of the music. The richness of the staging, extensive use of dance and the treatment of an historical subject make Spontini's work the precursor of French Grand Opera. It was greatly admired by Hector Berlioz.

Spontini substantially revised the opera for a revival in Paris on 28 May 1817. Two further revisions were made for performances in Berlin in 1824 and 1832.

This is based on the original version of 1809.

Act 1
The opera is based on the story of the Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, and his invasion of Aztec Mexico. At the beginning of the opera, Cortez persuades his mutinous troops not to embark for home. His brother, Alvaro, is a prisoner of the Aztecs and Cortez is also in love with the Aztec princess, Amazily. Amazily's brother, Télasco, arrives and tells the Spaniards to leave Mexico. Cortez responds by setting fire to his own ships.

Act 2
The Spaniards advance on the Aztec temple with Télasco their prisoner. They succeed in freeing Alvaro. Télasco accuses his sister Amazily of being a traitor and the Aztecs threaten to behead her if Alvaro is not returned to them. Amazily decides to sacrifice herself and hands herself over to the Aztecs. Cortez orders his men to attack the temple.

Act 3
In the temple, the priests prepare to sacrifice Alvaro when Amazily arrives. An oracle from the god announces that he wants the blood of his enemies. News arrives that the Aztec emperor Montezuma has been captured by the Spaniards. The high priest decides to go ahead with the sacrifice of Amazily. The Spaniards arrive just in time to save her. Amazily and Cortez are united in marriage.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gaspare Spontini - FERNANDO CORTEZ - 1809
Personaggi e interpreti: Amazili: Angeles Gulin, Fernando Cortez: Bruno Prevedi, Alvaro
Aldo Bottion, Telasco: Antonio Blancas Laplaza, Grande Sacerdote: Luigi Roni
Montezuma: Ivan Stefanov, Morales: Carlo del Bosco
Orchestra e Coro di Torino Rai - Direttore Lovro von Matacic
Rai Torino 11.01.1974
Gaspare Spontini - Notturno Concertante (Naples 1795)
Francesco Chirivi (Adaption & Flute) Andrea Mion (Baroque Oboe) - Accademia Barocca Dorica
Gaspare Spontini, Aria Milton, tuba solo
Concert held in Teatro "Gaspare Spontini" - Maiolati Spontini (AN) Italy 30/08/2008
"Trivio e Quadrivio" Festival
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