The melodrama

News about Antonio Vivaldi

Find Your Concert

The melodrama

While the publication of his instrumental work L’Estro Armonico achieved a success that made his name circulate in Europe, Vivaldi also began the composition of melodramas for the theater. On May 17, 1713 his first opera, Ottone in villa, was staged in Vicenza: he continued to write about it throughout his life, with staging in Venice (the first was Orlando finto pazzo), Mantua, Milan, Ferrara, Florence, Rome... Vivaldi, in a letter of 1737, claims to have written 94 works, even if only about fifty are known today. He liked very much to participate in the staging of his works, preferring to direct the first performance, even despite the difficulty of relations with the singing stars, the problems of the theaters, and the constant risk of losing a lot of money.

He was also for a period the impresario of the Sant’Angelo theater in Venice, one of the seven active in those years, thanks to contacts with the previous manager, Francesco Santurini. The duties of an impresario in the 1700s were many: he had to hire singers, orchestras, and all the personnel necessary for opera production, sign contracts and personally supervise all the work in the theater. He represented no less than eighteen of his works, sometimes even participating as a violinist between act and act, and arousing admiration for his incredible skills. He worked for the opera houses from 1714 until 1739, about to leave for Vienna: during his stay in Mantua (1718-1720) he was also hired as court music director. On his return to Venice he wrote for his theaters Teuzzone, Tito Manlio and La Candace.

In 1721 his opera La Silvia was performed in Milan, while it achieved great success in Rome with Ercole sul Termodonte and Giustino. He then wrote other titles (one also staged in Prague) while he seems to gloriously close his career as an opera performer in 1735, when he wrote four new operas for the Venetian Carnival: Adelaide, Griselda, Aristide and Geneva.