Dialogue Between True Discipline and the Genius
Festa da Camera a 2 voci
Libretto by Giovanni Claudio Pasquini
Music by Antonio Caldara
(Transcription and revision by Carlo Steno Rossi)
The realization of the modern score, in the transcription and revision by Carlo Steno Rossi, of Dialogue between True Discipline and the Genius by Antonio Caldara (Venice, 1670 – Vienna, 1736) is another milestone for the project of rediscovery, transcription and musical execution of unreleased works by composers from the 1600s and 1700s (never performed in modern times) launched by Venice Music Project and its orchestra in residence, Venetia Antiqua Ensemble.
Already in 2015 Venice Music Project started incorporate into its concert seasons dramatic compositions like Amor Prigioniero by Luca Antonio Predieri (Bologna, 1688 – 1767) and by Giuseppe Bonno (Vienna, 1711 – 1788) on the libretto of Pietro Metastasio (Rome, 1698 – Vienna, 1782), both in the modern edition realized and directed by Carlo Steno Rossi.
The project entails conducting research in the most prestigious musical libraries in Italy and Europe to track down handwritten scores by important composers, mainly Italian and specifically from the Veneto region, who may not be as well known today, but were once applauded in Courts and European theaters. The second step entails the realization of a modern edition along with a philological approach to the musical execution.
Dialogue between True Discipline and the Genius, on libretto by Giovanni Claudio Pasquini (Siena, 1695 – 1763) and music by Antonio Caldara, is included in the theatrical Festas, which are musical compositions consisting of few scenes and up to two acts, with 2 or 3 characters. The compositions were created to celebrate court events like births, weddings, Saint’s days and birthdays, military victories, etc… The compositions had an allegorical-mythological quality (metaphors and references perfectly understood by the aristocratic and cultural elite of the time, but totally undecipherable to most of us today).
These theatrical Festas were very popular and appreciated especially by the Vienna court and by various courts of the Italian States during the 17th and 18th centuries and became an integral part of the ceremonial protocol of the courts, representing one of the privileged rituals of the repraesentatio maiestatis, an occasion for pure entertainment as well as political and moral representation, mirroring the hierarchical structure and model of behavior used by the court.
In the specific case of Dialogue between True Discipline and the Genius, the musical manuscript in the subtitle defines the musical composition as “Festa di camera,” in one act, with roles limited to two people, namely the Discipline (soprano) and the Genius (contralto).
The musical material is entrusted to the traditional string quintet (2 violins, viola, cello and violone) with the basso continuo entrusted to the harpsichord. The internal articulation of the score calls for an introductive Symphony in three tempos, 4 Arias in total, each preceded by its own recitative (2 for the role of the Discipline, soprano, and 2 for the role of the Genius, contralto) and a final Duet.
The score was composed by the Venetian Antonio Caldara, vice choir maestro at the imperial Viennese Court from 1717 to his death in 1736, on libretto by the abbot Giovanni Claudio Pasquini, first court and then imperial poet. The work was meant to celebrate the Saint Name of the archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria and was presented precisely on October 15, 1730 at the Favorita Theater in Vienna, in the Palace chosen by the imperial family as summer residence.