Opera in the Time of Haydn

Haydn Conducting an Opera at Eszterhaza

“The comely Grilletta would never roar out her lines in a lusty fortissimo. It is entirely out of character.” (Aria to Death, Chapter One)

How did eighteenth-century audiences regard opera? We’re so used to prioritizing the music of an opera, that its other aspects—the plot, the ability, in particular the thespian ability, of the singers, and the scenery—sometimes pale into insignificance. The composer’s name is so inextricably intertwined with an opera that we forget there would be no opera without the plot and characters furnished by the librettist.

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Haydn and the Holiday Feast

How did Haydn, a devout Catholic, mark feast days? None of his early biographers make much mention of what he did. Feast Days of the diverse saints in the Roman Catholic calendar were, of course, marked in Vienna. Processions were common and the imperial couple frequently attended the many convents that dotted the inner city to celebrate the day.

But was there any that was marked as a holiday, celebrated by all?

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When Murder Strikes. . .

The Kapellmeister must don the role of Kapell-detective yet again

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Where did the Operas Go? The Case Against Giovanni Artusi

Giovanni Maria Artusi

Seven of the ten operas the great master of opera, Claudio Monteverdi, composed have never been found. How did they come to be lost? We don’t know. But without the composer’s correspondence, their existence would never have been known.

What follows is a theory—flawed, it is true—about what could have happened to those operas. It’s the story behind the plot of the latest Haydn Mystery, Aria to Death.

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