Old Music in Innsbruck

Magnificent Francesca Aspromonte – this week in Austria as Semele. A very interesting story – read more below.

Date Sat 25.08.2018
Time 20.00
Venue Tiroler Landestheater
Duration About 2 hours
Introduction 19.00

Johann Adolf Hasse: La Semele o sia La richiesta fatale (Semele oder Der verhängnisvolle Wunsch) 
Serenata. Libretto by Francesco Ricciardi 
Premiere: Autumn 1726, Naples

Semi-staged performance. Sung in Italian.

«A gripping chamber piece.» Conductor and musicologist Claudio Osele found a copy of the serenata «La Semele o sia La richiesta fatale» («Semele or The Fatal Request») by Johann Adolf Hasse in the Musikfreunde’s archive in Vienna. The composer from North Germany wrote the work after having moved to Naples, a Mecca of opera. In the South, Hasse transformed into the epitome of an Italian opera composer. «Semele» was first performed in a Neapolitan palazzo in 1726, allegedly featuring the famous castrato Farinelli. This was 17 years before Handel created his oratorio «Semele» in operatic style in London. Serenatas like Hasse’s «Semele» are also operas in their own way and were a popular form of tribute music in the baroque period to celebrate special occasions at princely courts.

Compared to operatic dramas, serenatas were usually characterised by smaller instrumentations and concentrated plots without subplots. What is more, production costs were low as they didn’t require much stage technology. The singers perform in costumes but without a set in German director Georg Quander’s production in Innsbruck. From a musical point of view, «Semele» is like an opera: Hasse’s serenata comprises duets, large ensembles, a pastoral by the Arcadian character of Semele, a lament after her death by Giove, the father of the gods, and a vengeance aria by Giunone, Giove’s jealous wife. Source