Biancamaria Brumana

Fortuna e modelli compositivi della "Passione" tra Jommelli, Paisiello e Morlacchi

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From 1730 to the early 1800s Metastasio's "Passion" was set to music by numerous composers. The version that enjoyed most success in Italy and abroad was Jommelli's 1749 setting, which was then taken as a model for the treatment of Metastasio's text. Composed in Rome upon commission of the English cardinal Henry Benedict, the last descendant of the exiled Stuart dynasty, Jommelli's oratorio would consolidate its success in England thanks to a printed edition of the score and performances in 1765 and 1770. In the latter year the piece was performed not only at The King's Theatre (with Gaetano Guadagni, in a season organised by Johann Christian Bach) but also at Covent Garden (with Giusto Ferdinando Tenducci). Already unlike other works in the Italian oratorio tradition, Metastasio's "Passion" would undergo further adaptation to meet contemporary English taste (the numerous additions thus further emphasising its hybrid Italian/North European nature). In 1783 Jommelli's "Passion" was somewhat superseded by Paisiello's composition, which was performed at the court of Catherine II of Russia. Paisiello took little account of Jommelli's oratorio - by then rather stylistically old-fashioned - and his new work would in its turn become a model to be followed by subsequent composers, as we can see from Morlacchi's "Passion" (Dresden 1812).

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