Mstation Classical Reviews

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Mon, 27 Feb 2006

Vivaldi, Motezuma

Antonio Vivaldi, Motezuma
Il Complesso Barocco
Alan Curtis
recorded Nov 2005
3 CD's,
Deutche Grammaphonon Archiv

This was first performed on 14 November 1733 at the Teatro San Angelo and might have been directed by Vivaldi from the first violin position. Its history after that is a bit clouded and it sank completely from sight and has not been in the Baroque repertoire at all. This is, in fact, the first performance of what was considered to be a "lost" work. It was actually found in an archive in Berlin. How it got there no-one knows. It was rediscovered by accident by a musical scholar.

What of the work itself? It is one of those grandeloquent operas of the times but with a bit of a twist. The subject is Mexico's Montezuma and his defeat by the forces of Spain and with the idea of the spread of Christianity being rather a good thing. We all know that the way it was done was hardly very good for the natives and we also know that many villians over time have used used their religion as a general excuse to be beastly to all and sundry. In this case we might expect that Vivaldi, who was after all a priest, might side with the forces of the church. He does not completely do so at all and one is left feeling more compassion for Montezuma than joy for the victors.

The work is nicely done without, I think, the extra-special magic that makes some works really stand out. It will garner quite a few new fans though. And this production is quite excellent. (Baron K)

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