Johann Herczog

Oscillazioni di un genere sul crinale tra liturgia e melodramma: l'interpretazione musicale del primo "componimento sacro" del Metastasio

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With its theological-eschatological and liturgical significance, the Passion as a musical form is mainly associated with the Lutheran Church (the Catholic tradition tending to favour a Passion recounted in motets). In fact, Metastasio's first religious composition in Vienna - "La Passione di Gesù Cristo Signor Nostro" (1730) - was a work commissioned for performance in the Imperial Chapel. The newly-appointed Court Poet tried here to reconcile specifically Viennese traditions and his own poetic genius, producing a work which does contain surprising analogies with the Lutheran model. Thus his libretto contains both spiritual sections (suitable for a semi-liturgical use) and more dramatic sections (closer to the taste of this celebrated author of "opera seria"). This ambiguity is fully reflected in the various subsequent settings of the text (even taking into account the changes in compositional technique during the eighteenth century). Whilst the first setting by Caldara (1730) uses a grave and religious musical language, Jommelli's (c.1749) places greater emphasis on the sensual poetry of the text. Salieri's 1776 version - written for a public concert - draws on the latest works of Gluck and contains features that clearly herald the end of the era of Metastasio.

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