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I just found and watched this DVD of one of the better-known Haydn operas. It's thoroughly charming, and one could easily mistake it for Mozart.

Just quickly: Antonella Manotti (Grilletta) ; Carmen Gonzales (Volpino) ; Luigi Alva (Sempronio) ; William Matteuzzi (Mengone) ; Orchestra della Svizzera italiana ; Marc Andreae, conductor.

Usual competition for love among commoners and noblemen and maidservants, etc., as in Mozart.

One of the strangest things in important music is the way people forget Haydn, who is easily one of the greatest composers of Western music. He is almost always paired in people's minds unfavorably with Mozart, which makes even less sense than those tales in which endless guilt about Mozart's life takes the form of vilifying Salieri (Peter Gay's Mozart biography clears this up and that's it for 'Amadeus' for most of us...). But after childhood people often don't want to play Haydn unless they specialize. Yet much Haydn is better than at least some Mozart. I didn't hear any arias here that had quite the lyric beauty of those from 'Figaro', 'Don Giovanni' or 'Cosi Fan Tutte', but it was probably as satisfying or more than some of the lesser Mozart offerings, to be sure.

Would be interested to know of live performances of Haydn operas actually attended. I believe NYCO did a few in the 70s and maybe since, but I think they are even less well-known than Handel's. This is a kind of provincial performance with the names I've pasted above, and this Lugano, Switzerland, orchestra is quite good--just the right kind of gentleness for a simple and perfectly-crafted bit of 18th century comedy.

I do sometimes wonder if Haydn's unusual professional success--which never was reversed once it set in--colors some laypeople's lack of interest in his work. Of course, there is so much of it in terms of symphonies alone that he is hardly endangered, but my impression has always been that he's underrated, and that the public does not particularly want to hear him. I've heard several great musicians express this sentiment; all of us forget about Haydn, and then we remember that to do so makes no sense: He was one of the great musical geniuses, but tends to remind us more of WQXR than going to a big Philharmonic concert. I admit to not thinking of him all that much myself, but did remember that Nadia Reisenberg was a big Haydn enthusiast and recorded a fair amount of sonatas, I believe.

Anyone have any other recommended DVD's or CD's of Haydn operas? I bet Helene has seen some before, whether in Seattle or New York.

Edited to add: Are there any ballets to Haydn? There must be, but I can't think of any!

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Would be interested to know of live performances of Haydn operas actually attended. I believe NYCO did a few in the 70s and maybe since, but I think they are even less well-known than Handel's.

Maybe he'll have a revival like Handel's. It's remarkable how many Handel operas are in the active repertory now.

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Maybe he'll have a revival like Handel's. It's remarkable how many Handel operas are in the active repertory now.

Tbanks, dirac. I've never seen either in a live performance, but am about to watch 'Tamerlano' as well, which is on DVD.

Also, hoping carbro and zerbinetta and other long-time NYCB goers (I wasn't going in the early 90s) will give us some reports on the Taylor-Corbett ballet to Haydn. This will tie in nicely to the new 'Music for Ballets' thread that started just after this one and included some thoughts about Haydn's 'Military Symphony' as possible for ballet music. The Opus 20 Quartets I'm about to listen to as well, these are supposed to be somewhat singular among his great quartets. Yes, I just looked up his wiki, and now I remember why I was interested to hear this group: It was also around this time that Haydn became interested in writing fugues in the Baroque style, and three of the Op. 20 quartets end with such fugues. I have never paid as much attention to some of the important classical period chamber music as I need to now, but Haydn fugues sounds somewhat exotic and I've never thought of it.

As for any more DVD's of Haydn operas, I haven't seen any.

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Listening to more and more Haydn string quartets, all 6 of opus 20, I am convinced that in this form he is no way Mozart's inferior. I think that 'cult of personality' even goes to old and long-dead figures, not just Elvis and Marilyn. These are not just well-crafted either. Haydn on a string quarted is supernal, celestial, inspired, and the half- or no-interest in him is part of that sensibility which seems to need a 'single genius', even though I don't think this has any meaning at all in any of the Arts. This is where the 'cult comfort' comes in, and it's extremely limiting. But Haydn is easily the most ludicrous example of an ignored master. In Western music, he is surely in the top 3, 5, or 10, according to taste. Mozart surpasses him sometimes, as in opera definitely, but not nearly always. His symphonies and chamber music are not always greater. I will be listening to all of the Haydn string quartets in the next couple of weeks, and imagine that the later ones are going to inspire with at least as much complexity and brilliance as these do.

The Mozart 'personality cult' actually detracts from Mozart's own genius. If it's not puerile 'drama' to malign Salieri, it's Mozart cults which hate Beethoven. And although Mozart wrote many brilliant piano sonatas, it is the 32 of Beethoven that are the ultimate development of the form by one composer.

Dirac--this is off-topic, but since I started with Haydn opera and then mentioned Handel, I had a chance to watch 'Tamerlano', in a lovely performance at the Handel Festival in Halle, his birthplace. The majestic, stirring royal music is there, and then there are these strange (to ears unaccustomed to them) arias, all very long and usually a single couplet repeated ad infinitum for about 10 minutes, about how the heroine will save some potentate from his wickedness, etc. I suppose there is an evolution from Monteverdi opera seria which always seemed (from my limited exposure to it) to be these big numbers like being on a wide plateau, and then somehow jumping to the next one, but I haven't really had time to recall my studies which touched on Monteverdi. In any case. the Asteria is gloriously sung, and the other lead roles are sung quite well, even if not quite that superbly...BUT...I see that while many rednecks can not ever get past tights on the ballet stage and the dread imperialism and oppression of the poor that ballet must surely be partially responsible for (oh Lord, the tedium of some of the Marxists talking about ballet's Nazism), MY problem is: Here we have this beautiful heroine with the glorious soprano and two rivalling love interests. And what are they? a Prince sung by a swish (American definition more than English) countertenor, and a tyrannical Tamerlano, who is a MEZZO-SOPRANO!!! Oh well, I guess Germany and Austria were aswarm with castrati back then, but I just can't get into this sort of thing. I saw about 2/3 of it and then just read the synopsis for the rest.

Anyway, what Handel operas have you seen? Have you liked them? I now remember that the first NYCO Handel opera I heard about was 'Julius Caesar'. I don't think I really have a taste for this kind of opera, though. The Haydn I saw, even though less well-known, I much preferred, so I suppose I find Handel opera a rather heavy and unprofitable sort of exoticism, at least from this example. The costumes for 'Tamerlano' were brilliant, though--more Turkish things, but none of the crisp flighty fun of 'Abduction from the Seraglio.'

Nobody is going to tell me about 'Mercury?' Okay. I suppose it wasn't that well-received and I don't ever see it on NYCB schedules anymore. Still is the only all-Haydn ballet I've yet found. I'll see if I can find an old review of it.

Well, how about this, PNB did it in 2003: Did Sandy McKean, Helene or sandik see it out there? I couldn't copy the excellent paragraph on the piece, but here's the link:


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