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Ti lascio adorato mio ben
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The Théâtre de Monsieur developed into a prestigious institution, producing Italian and French operas, and at the end of 1788 Viotti summoned Cherubini there to write arias and various pieces for insertion in other men’s operas. To guarantee his productions were of the finest quality, Viotti had personally made every effort to assemble the best singers available, for which purpose he travelled to Italy. Among those he selected was a mysterious Mademoiselle Balletti, also known as Rosa (or Rosita) Baletti, born Elena Riccoboni in Stuttgart in 1768. She was destined to become one of the top stars of the Théâtre de Monsieur; according to the scanty information that has survived about her, she had a sweet voice, a perfect technique and a touching expressive gift.

Cherubini wrote a number of occasional arias specifically for Baletti. One of these was Ti lascio adorato mio ben, a grand Scena e rondeau dating from 1789, which demonstrates that the composer now demanded a dramatic truth emancipated from eighteenth-century vocal virtuosity. The expressive atmosphere is pathetic and heroic, and is already evoked in masterly fashion in the broad accompanied recitative, laid out in three distinct tempos (Largo, Andante, Allegretto) which depict in varied orchestral scoring the successive moods of a pro­tagonist forced to abandon his own wife. The ensuing aria (‘Nel lasciarti, o mia speranza’) is conceived on a similarly large scale, with an accompaniment that develops an affecting melodic idea, overlaid by a broad, supple vocal line, Mozartian in its grace, though breaking into coloratura from time to time. The spacious, majestic tones of this first section of the aria are succeeded by a much more impetuous second part (‘Prendi omai gli estremi amplessi’), an Allegro that conveys the protago­nist’s wild distraction at leaving his loved one in rapid, tightly packed vocal figurations; this section has the lively gait typical of the rondo, with the instrumental texture still an active participant in the discourse.

from notes by Francesco Ermini Polacci © 2012
English: Charles Johnston

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