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HarpsichordConcerto
December 18th, 2011, 08:15 AM
Joseph Haydn is not a name often associated with opera, but I thought the father of the symphony, string quartet, the piano trio and Classicism deserves a thread anyway! But I'll begin with an unusual one, perhaps a bit misleading for this thread, an opera by Michael Haydn (1737-1806), younger brother of Franz Joseph! Opera-Singspiel in two acts, Andromeda und Perseus (1787). Other than Michael’s symphonies and mass settings, which I enjoy, I don’t know much else of Michael's oeuvre.

This work, technically an opera seria was written one year after Mozart’s Figaro for their common old employer, the Archbishop of Salzburg. Overall, it revealed Michael as an experienced symphonic composer (he wrote over 40 symphonies) because many of the vocal pieces, including the arias, showed a strong instrumental idiom. The chorus and orchestral numbers also showed the same. This was perhaps no different to Mozart's idiom pre-Vienna, and despite reported professional jealousy between Leopold Mozart and Michael Haydn, the latter was a capable composer enough to impress the Mozarts. I enjoyed all the solo arias, none were mediocre as far as I was concerned.

Well directed by Reinhard Goebel, who is normally associated with period instrument groups, but this time directing a modern instrument orchestra but the approach was historically inspired nonetheless. The spoken text, which I could do without, amounted to no more than 10 minutes for the whole opera. The entire performance was only about 110 minutes long.

It's not a Mozart opera, nor a Gluck opera but one worth listening to if you keen to explore more of Michael Haydn's works, or Classical operas in general.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51u8IGR%2BZUL._SL500_AA280_.jpg

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 2nd, 2012, 02:30 AM
Haydn: Il Mondo della Luna on blu-ray
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51iLDH2SDpL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

I bought it based on four 5-star reviews by Amazon.com customers, and unlike I usually do, I didn't look for YouTube segments.

I should have waited for someone here to review this and should not have trusted the Amazon.com customers.

This is in my opinion not worth its price. It was relatively expensive ($36), and it bored me to death, especially the second act.

First, because of the quality of the work itself, or lack thereof. Like I said in the general forum, Haydn is no Handel. As far as operatic orchestration goes, I found his to be very anemic, and the melodic treatment of the arias is bland as well. The libretto has its moments but is no masterpiece either.

Second, the staging is uneven in its attempt to be visually striking. It tries too hard and falls flat.

Third, the unattractive singers are nothing to write home about. Bernard Richer singing Ecclitico was good enough, but that's about it. The others were mediocre even though the vocal writing in this opera is not very demanding.

Some of the over-enthusiastic Amazon.com reviewers call for a Haydn revival. Judging his operatic production (20 operas) by this confessedly limited sample (I don't know any of the other 19), I wouldn't hold my breath for it. It's been said that Haydn's operas, whatever their musical value is, are not stage worthy. If they are anything like this Il Mondo della Luna, I'd tend to agree.

My verdict: C opera, C- staging, C singing. Stay away. I want my money back.