Paer: Leonora

Album cover art for upc 761203541126
Label: CPO
Catalog: 555411-2
Format: COMPACT DISC

Spicer, Kresimir; Lys, Marie; Fanale, Paolo; De Marchi, Alessandro; Donato, Luigi De; Allemano, Carlo; Bellocci, Eleonora; Girolami, Renato; Innsbruck Festival Orchestra

In 2020, in a fitting contribution to the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, the Innsbruck Early Music Festival presented a concert performance of the opera Leonora by his contemporary Ferdinando Paër. With this program selection the conductor Alessandro De Marchi rescued from oblivion the counterpart of Beethoven’s opera Fidelio and its model. Spirited recitatives, extended arias, cabalettas, and marvelously mellow duets occur in sequence in Paër's works, including his opera Leonora, premiered in 1804. During the Napoleonic Wars what he presented here was a heroic liberation opera of French stamp. The action corresponds to the spirit of the times, and the faithful wife displays heroism in her rescue of her unjustly imprisoned husband from a self-complacent tyrant’s dungeon. Dark political intrigues are denounced, and honesty, uprightness, and pure love are glorified. Paër’s musical setting of Fidelio’s heroic story differs from Beethoven’s only opera in many respects. First and foremost because the libretto is in Italian, a language that has very different effects on the melodic, rhythmic, and rhetorical flow of the music and its expressive character. Then there is also the fact that Paër composed considerably more coloraturas for the principal singers than Beethoven did. Here an Italian opera composer of the high Neapolitan school clearly continuing to point back to Hasse and Porpora makes his voice heard.

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