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Oh, temerario Arbace, K79

composer
author of text

 
Thirty years before the composition of Haydn’s Scena di Berenice, the eight-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91) had also come to London, where he was to spend fifteen formative months. It was here that he wrote his first symphonies and the concert aria for tenor, “Va, dal furor portata”, K21. Equally significantly he was exposed to a wide array of opera in London’s theatres and salons, and he reportedly took singing lessons with the celebrated castrato Giovanni Manzuoli. On his homeward journey from London to Salzburg, during an extended stay in The Hague in Holland, Mozart composed two concert arias whose texts are taken from Artaserse, an opera whose popular English setting by Thomas Arne would almost certainly have been heard by Mozart during his stay in London; Mozart, however, set Metastasio’s original Italian. Oh, temerario Arbace is the second of these arias.

Even at such a tender age Mozart was already astonishingly fluent and accomplished in setting words to music, and Dr Daines Barrington’s fascinating eyewitness report submitted to the Royal Society in London described how the young Wolfgang had performed for him “an Extemporary opera to nonsense words … [with] an overture of three movements, recitative, Graziosa, Bravura and Pathetic Airs together with accompanied Recitatives, all full of good taste and imagination”.

Oh, temerario Arbace begins with Mozart’s first surviving accompanied recitative, a style of writing in which he was to become unsurpassed. It is sung by Arbaces, who has been wrongly imprisoned for the murder of Xerxes. This crime has actually been committed by his own father, Artabanes, but Arbaces refuses to betray him and nobly accepts his fate. As was sometimes the case with arias written for concert performance, the singer assumes both roles in the scene so as to preserve dramatic continuity.

from notes by Ian Page © 2017

Recordings

Perfido!
Studio Master: SIGCD485Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Details

No 1. Recitativo: Oh, temerario Arbace!
Track 6 on SIGCD485 [1'15] Download only
No 2. Aria: Per quel paterno amplesso
Track 7 on SIGCD485 [4'45] Download only

Track-specific metadata

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