La Griselda, Opera by A. Vivaldi
Antonio Vivaldi is most famous for his orchestral works, but he left his mark on the Baroque period with opera work as well. Gran Teatro La Fenice in Venice is giving one of the Italian composer’s rare but exciting stage works, the dramma per musica La Griselda, on the stage of Teatro Malibran. The early opera has it all: a love story that extends over generations, a popular uprising, and enough masterfully written arias and duets to fill the classical connoisseur’s heart. La Griselda had its premiere at Teatro San Samuele in Venice on 18 May 1735. This season, this rare and special opera is coming home again.
The story of La Griselda originates in Giovanni Boccaccio’s famous Decameron, the famous collection of tales about love and lust that is as essential to Italian Baroque as Vivaldi’s everlasting melodies. The original libretto was the work of Apostolo Zeno, but the famous playwright and Venetian native Carlo Goldoni took the job of revising it. The collaboration between Goldoni and Vivaldi was reportedly tenuous at first, but one cannot argue with the final result. The plot of La Griselda begins with the unpopular marriage of Gualtiero, King of Thessaly, to the poor shepherdess Griselda. The two love each other dearly, but Gualtiero’s people are simmering with anger and disappointment at their monarch’s choice of spouse. The birth of their daughter Costanza is no cause for celebration, and the King is forced to pretend he’s killed her but secretly sends her away in the care of Prince Corrado in Athens.
As the years go by and the people’s resentment towards Griselda grows stronger, Gualtiero has no choice but to send her away and look for a new queen. The candidate is going to surprise and shock audiences, and the darker plot behind the ongoing popular dissent will be revealed. La Griselda stands out with its many unexpected twists as well as with Vivaldi’s excellent score. Among the standout arias, look out for Costanza’s coloratura solo ‘Agitata da due venti’, which will ring at the Malibran Theatre this season.