ⓘ Ippolito ed Aricia


ⓘ Ippolito ed Aricia

Ippolito ed Aricia is a "reform opera" in five acts by Tommaso Traetta with an Italian libretto by Carlo Innocenzo Frugoni. The opera is based upon abbe Simon-Joseph Pellegrins libretto for Rameaus earlier opera Hippolyte et Aricie, which was in turn based on Racines tragedy Phedre. The opera premiered at the Teatro Ducale in Parma on May 9, 1759 and is still occasionally performed by opera companies today.


1. Background and musical analysis

Ippolito ed Aricia was commissioned in 1759 by Guillaume du Tillot, a minister for Philip, Duke of Parma, on behalf of the duke and his wife, Princess Louise Elisabeth of France. At that time, both France and Spain thought of Parma as a strategic point of interest and subsidized the court heavily. The duke and his wife were particularly fond of French opera and Tillot promoted all forms of French musical theater at the court. However, Tillot decided that he wanted to commission an opera for the court that would merge Italian musical idioms, such as beautiful melodies and virtuosic coloratura display, with French dramatic forms like choruses, ballet, and supernatural elements. He approached Carlo Innocenzo Frugoni, court poet of Parma, with the idea of creating such an opera using the Italian text of Rameaus Hippolyte et Aricie. He agreed, and Tillot proceeded to recruit Tommaso Traetta to compose the music and Count Francesco Algarotti to assist Frugoni with the libretto.

The resulting work is a rare successful blend of Italian opera seria elements and the French tragedie lyrique. The opera has virtuosic exit arias in the opera seria tradition of Metastasio but is organized into five acts, as in French opera. There are 12 characters in the drama, four prominent instrumental sinfonias, elaborate choruses, and 26 dances, most of which are organized into suites. The instrumentation is highly creative and often employs solo or independent viola writing. Obbligato recitative is used for moments of extreme drama, and here the orchestral accompaniment is elaborate and complex. Choral movements are large and often involve solo passages for various members of the cast. Du Tillot advertised the performance extensively. The production was lavish and brilliant and the opera a huge success, for nothing like it had ever been tried before.


2. Recordings

  • Ippolito ed Aricia with conductor David Golub, the Orchestra Internazionale dItalia, and the Bratislava Chamber Choir. The cast includes Angelo Manzotti Hippolytus, Patrizia Ciofi Aricia, Elena Lopez Phaedra, Simon Edwards Theseus, Maria Miccoli Oenone, Stefania Donzelli Diana, Luca Grassi Plutone, Monica Sesto Tisifone, Saverio Fiore Mercurio, Sara Allagretta High priestess, Angela Masi Una Marinajna, Rossana Potenza Una Cacciatrice, and Loredana Cinieri Le Parche Madia Todisco. Recorded live in 1999 and released in 2000.
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