Gli astrologi immaginari, opera buffa
The 2019 edition of Génération Baroque offers a session of dramatic and musical work culminating in the presentation, for the first time in France and in northern Italy, of Gli astrologi immaginari, an opera buffa in two acts by Giovanni Paisiello, first performed in 1779, at the court of Catherine II of Russia in St Petersburg.
Auditions held in Paris, Milan, Strasbourg, and Basel will give young musicians already launched on a professional career or completing their postgraduate studies in conservatories the opportunity to combine their talents in performing this original work by a composer who is currently being restored to his rightful place at the forefront of the operatic scene.
The session will be held in two phases. The first phase will take place from 14 to 30 July 2019: it will include a period of musical and stage training for the singers and end with a series of performances in various venues in Italy.
The second phase, consisting of a number of concert performances, will take place in January 2020 (dates to be confirmed) in the Grand Est Region of France.
The work is – as was required at the court of Catherine II – concise (an hour and a half!) and joyful. It quickly had performances in Moscow, Vienna, Naples and (in an expanded French version) Paris, sometimes under another title, I filosofi immaginari. Haydn conducted it 33 times at Eszterháza, a success surpassing that of his own opera buffe, which testifies to its quality and appeal.
The utterly zany libretto deals with promising themes: the notion of obsession, very frequent in Paisiello (as in the remarkable Socrate immaginario, 1775, and Il sposo burlato, 1778), the conflict between generations, and, of course, the inexhaustible subterfuge of disguise.
With very short arias, almost without coloratura, two fine ten-minute ensembles to conclude the two acts and a few fairly brief choruses, the opera is remarkable for its concentration and concision, foreshadowing in many respects Paisiello’s setting of Il barbiere di Siviglia, completed three years later.
An ideal work for a young singers’ workshop!
Petronio is fascinated to the point of obsession with astronomy and philosophy. He has decided to marry his daughters Clarice and Cassandra to scientists and therefore rejects Giuliano, who is in love with Clarice. Unlike the latter, a very simple girl, her older sister Cassandra is fond of philosophy. To conquer Clarice, Giuliano disguises himself as a hundred-year-old Greek philosopher. The philosopher claims to be able to rejuvenate himself with an elixir. He also says he can cure Clarice of her ignorance, and Petronio enthusiastically entrusts his daughter to him and signs a document, which is in fact a marriage licence, without having read it. In the meantime the elixir ‘takes effect’, and the philosopher rejuvenates and is transformed into Giuliano – to the despair of Petronio, who realises he has been duped.
Forces required (trainees)
- Clarice: soprano
- Cassandra: soprano
- Giuliano: baritone
- Petronio: buffo baritone
- 4 ‘Scolari’ forming the chorus: SATB
- assistant stage director
Orchestra (chamber orchestra, on stage!)
- 2 oboes
- 2 violins
- double bass
- harpsichordist/ trainee
- Stage director: Carlos Harmuch
- Scenography: to be confirmed
- String coach: to be confirmed
- Vocal coach & continuo: Iason Marmaras
- Musical and overall director: Martin Gester
Conditions of participation
Candidates will be auditioned, and a selection will be made on the basis of quality of performance, motivation, musical and dramatic suitability for the roles offered, and age. Priority is given to candidates aged thirty or less, but exceptions are possible.
An indispensable condition is a commitment to be available for all dates of the session (NB the period varies for singers, continuo and orchestra).
Four dates and venues are proposed for auditions. Candidates who find it impossible or extremely difficult to participate in one of them may send recordings with a similar programme (below): video (maximum 720p) for singers, audio (MP3) or video for instrumentalists.
- Closing date for applications: one week before the chosen audition to email@example.com or to Le Parlement de Musique – 17 Grand’rue – 67000 STRASBOURG; 20 April 2019 if sending recordings.
Application form available for download at: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1neSn75VYgdEzPmKi8AjXL7Ti4v37iyhD
Milan: Friday 15 March
Paris: Saturday 23 March
Basel: Saturday 6 April
Strasbourg: Monday 8 April
- Final list of participants announced on 4 May 2019
- Phase 1: residency in Aosta/Italy (near the Franco-Swiss border) from 14 to 30 July (18 to 30 for the orchestra) – maximum period – for training, rehearsals and initial series of performances (Aosta, Novara etc.).
- Phase 2 in Strasbourg and Alsace, for a duration of about a week in January 2020 (rehearsals and performance – dates TBC).
- All participants’ expenses are paid throughout the sessions EXCEPT return travel from their place of residence, for which they are responsible, for the first session. A limited financial contribution to travelling expenses will be made for the second session.
- The dress rehearsal and the first two performances are part of the training. From the third concert onwards, artists will be paid a fee to be fixed at a later date.
Programme for auditions
An Italian recitative and aria of the singer’s choice, or a recitative and aria from an opera buffa by Paisiello, Cimarosa or Mozart.
Option: we place at singers’ disposal copies of selected arias that will give them an idea of the roles and which they may present for audition if they wish (but this is not in any way compulsory). Here is the link : https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1DXLTr4N0jnZqy-8StE4FAFmfRufCWRjz
3 contrasting movements of candidate’s choice (maximum 12 minutes), selected from works in the Italian style from about 1750 to 1790 (repeats optional)
- Harpsichord: 2 contrasting sonatas by D. Scarlatti or similar (without repeats), and a recitative and aria from a cantata or opera after 1750 – if possible, please come with a singer or else a treble instrument. If necessary, consult us.
NB 1: for practical reasons, there will be a harpsichord at 415 hz and a piano at 440 hz. We will specify if there is a fortepiano at 430 hz and confirm this point for each audition.
NB 2: for an audition in the best possible conditions, please email advance copies of the accompaniments in .pdf format. Candidates can also come with their accompanist.
Assistant stage director
Please send application form with detailed CV (résumé) and one or two letters of recommendation, and if possible choose one of the audition dates for a 15-minute interview.