I managed to catch the Utrecht Early Music Festival’s production of Cavalli’s Ipermestra on Norwegian Radio (Thanks again to Operacast for making the world of opera so easily accessible).
Did any of my readers hear this marvelous work?
It was a beautiful performance, and one hopes that it was not only captured in audio, but in video as well - you can take a look at some performance stills over at Wim Trompert's site, the prduction's director.
Interestingly, one of the reviewer's on that site mentions that the Florentines would have expected something much larger, but it seems that Cavalli himself used an uncharacteristically small orchestra and singing cast for this performance.
According to Jan Glover (Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, Vol. 102. (1975 - 1976), pp. 67-82) this period of Italian opera was characterized by a certain economy, and it was interesting to listen to the production, noting how little there was in the way of aria, and how they would simply emerge from the recitative, only to fall back into them, without much of the sharp division one is used to.
Can I make a bold claim that we don't see this kind of musical drama again until Wagner? As I've written before, Cavalli stands on the edge of the full separation of drama and music that was to occur in Baroque opera, that sharp division between recitative and aria. Ipermestra, to my ear, stands very much in between, and in contrast to some of Cavalli's other work, seems less fragmented, and more fluid in its handling of the dramatic and emotional material.
Need I mention also that Cavalli wrote wonderfully for the voice? It is always so easy to understand what the singers are on about with Cavalli, but he doesn't spare any beauty for the sake of clarity.
Again, I hope that someone will fully wake up to Cavalli's rich and varied musical dramas, and we'll see more regular stagings of his work.