ⓘ Griselda (Vivaldi)

                                     

ⓘ Griselda (Vivaldi)

Griselda is a dramma per musica in three acts that was composed by Antonio Vivaldi. The opera uses a revised version of the 1701 Italian libretto by Apostolo Zeno that was based on Giovanni Boccaccios The Decameron. The celebrated Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni was hired to adapt the libretto for Vivaldi. The opera was first performed in Venice at the Teatro San Samuele on 18 May 1735.

                                     

1. Composition history

Michael Talbot notes that "the particular fame of this opera arises from the fact that it involved a collaboration with Goldoni," although one which was initially fraught with problems, but he goes on to note that the two men eventually worked out an amicable compromise in the revision of an old libretto to fit the vocal limitations of the first Griselda, Anna Giro.

                                     

2. Performance history

The operas first modern performance was in concert on 11 May 1978 in the English Bach Festival with John Eliot Gardiner as conductor. The opera was given its UK theatrical premiere on 23 July 1983 as part of the Buxton Festival, while in the US, it was not presented until 2000.

Today, Griselda is rarely performed, but it featured as one of the 2011 festival season presentations of The Santa Fe Opera. Pinchgut Opera Sydney staged four performances November–December 2011 in the City Recital Hall and in Rio de Janeiro Municipal Theatre in June 2012 in concert form with Francesconi, Franco, Nardotto, Bitar, Christensson and Faria conducted by Marco Pace. Two arias from the opera have become popular concert pieces with singers such as Cecilia Bartoli and Simone Kermes. These are "Agitata da due venti" from act 2 and "Dopo unorrida procella" from act 3.

On the 12 October 2019, Irish National Opera staged a production of the work in Galways Town Hall Theatre. This was the first ever performance of any Vivaldi opera in Ireland.

                                     

3.1. Synopsis Act 1

Years before the action begins, Gualtiero, King of Thessaly, had married a poor shepherdess, Griselda. The marriage was deeply unpopular with the kings subjects and when a daughter, Costanza, was born, the king had to pretend to have her killed while secretly sending her to be brought up by Prince Corrado of Athens. Now, after the recent birth of a son has led to another rebellion from the Thessalians against Griselda as a queen, Gualtiero is forced to dismiss her and promises to take a new wife. The proposed bride is in fact Costanza, who is unaware of her true parentage and unknown to Griselda. She is in love with Corrados younger brother, Roberto, and the thought of being forced to marry Gualtiero drives her to despair.

                                     

3.2. Synopsis Act 2

Costanza sings of her torn affections betrothed to Gualtiero but in love with Roberto in the coloratura aria Agitata da due venti. Griselda returns to her home in the countryside where she is pursued by the villainous courtier Ottone, who is completely besotted with her and has surreptitiously fomented the popular uprisings in order to derail her marriage. She angrily rejects his advances. Gualtiero and his followers go out hunting and come across Griseldas cottage. Gualtiero foils an attempt by Ottone to kidnap Griselda and allows her back to the court, but only as Costanzas slave.

                                     

3.3. Synopsis Act 3

Ottone still resolutely pursues Griselda and Gualtiero promises him her hand as soon as he himself has married Costanza. Griselda absolutely refuses and declares she would rather die. At this point, Gualtiero embraces her, having demonstrated her virtue to the rebellious people, and takes her back as his wife. Gualtiero and Corrado reveal the true identity of Costanza, Ottone is pardoned and the girl is allowed to marry Roberto.