PREMIERED December 14, 2018 at 7:30PM
A recital program exploring the Italian art song canon of the 20th and 21st centuries.
ABOUT THE CREATION
When I first visited Magazzino Italiano, I was immediately inspired to create this program especially for this space. Visiting this truly unique new museum, I was struck by the wealth of contemporary art from Italy and the Italian diaspora that I knew so little about. The beauty and thought-provoking art, the stunning acoustics created within its walls, and the award-winning airy architectural space that houses this formidable collection compelled me to talk with Giorgio and his team about performance possibilities. Inspired by the art in Magazzino, I felt drawn to explore the parallel in music – a terra incognita for me – the modern and contemporary Italian art song repertory. I had only a passing acquaintance with this music – the usual Berio and Respighi orchestral pieces and the like. However I was delighted to discover, as I suspected from the start, there exists so much more and many composers worthy of showcasing that I had previously not encountered. It felt like finding treasure!
So I went down the rabbit hole of exploration and this brought hours of pleasure poring over scores in libraries and listening to existing performances of this fascinating repertoire. As you can imagine, it was overwhelming and nearly impossible to choose what to include on my recital program. One could really do a festival of this song repertoire annually for decades and still never hear all the masterpieces in the canon, especially since there are new works every day. However after a few revisions with my collaborator Inessa Zaretsky (pianist), we finally landed on a wonderful eclectic and thoughtful collection of 19 songs to help represent over 120 years of music in about an hour. Some pretty famous composers had to be eliminated along the way to my chagrin. However I have chosen these small masterpieces to show the wealth of what’s available and by no means suggest that it exhausts the possibilities.
As a countertenor, I frequently bridge two parallel musical worlds: that of the Baroque and Early Music sphere (music prior to 1750) and of the modern and contemporary music scene (1900 and beyond). Countertenor voices and early and contemporary music seem to make a perfect fit. I like to break barriers though and much of the repertoire on this program would never have been written for countertenor, and so therefore, smiling wryly, I couldn’t resist.
The program takes its name from the famous collection of songs from baroque composer Giulio Caccini: Le Nuove Musiche, published in 1602. Even though there are previous examples of early monodic songs, Caccini (an early PR genius and ruthlessly competitive composer in his time) is considered by many to have ushered in a new age of writing for the solo voice with his famed collection. Caccini was a member of the Florentine Camerata, whose members were rightfully considered the founders of Italian opera, and whose innovations set the course for the future of western vocal music for the next four hundred years. It gained a new life in the 20th century, when composers, musicians, and historians started unearthing works of these earlier composers and performing them again and using them as sources of inspiration. I have been lucky in my time as an artist to be on the forefront of the Baroque renaissance performing works often unearthed for the first time hundreds of years after their initial performance and creation – I think of myself as a kind of front man for musical archeology. Luigi Dallapiccola, famed modern Italian composer, created new realizations of several of these songs and arias of the early baroque period for the modern piano and voice, of which we have included two on this program.
But now, with this program, I turn myself to excavating and unearthing a different, more recent canon – one in danger of being lost to time like some of its predecessors hundreds of years before. The program takes as its point of departure the influences of the early Italian composers and ancient poets on modern music; however, it explores primarily the Italian art song repertoire of the past 120 years. Included on this program are two premieres of songs by Italian-American composers Rolando Gori and Raphael Fusco, showing the future of the art form in the hands of contemporary composers of Italian descent. Many of the composers on this program look to music of the ancient Italian masters as a source of inspiration, but married these older compositional forms and texts with the timbral, harmonic, and dramatic sensibilities of a world changed by the industrial era, Romanticism, globalism, two World Wars, social revolutions, and the Computer Age. The music you will hear is a wonderful blend of would-be famous and nearly-forgotten classic and avant-garde songs expressing the beauty of the Italian language, its people, and its rich poetic and musical traditions. With each song, we celebrate the Italian artistic and musical spirit from its roots to its future.
O DEL MIO AMATO BEN (1918)
UN SOGNO (1920)
VIENI, RIEMPI IL BICCHIER (1920) from Cinque Liriche dal “Rubayat”
È SERA (2016)
OSCURO È IL CIEL (1933) from Due Canti d’amore
FUOR DELLA BELLA GAIBA (1923) from Tre Canzoni Trecentesche
INTERMEZZO of Domenico Scarlatti sonatas and selections from Luigi Dallapiccola’s QUADERNO MUSICALE DI ANNALIBERA (1952):
AMARILLI MIA BELLA (published 1602) from Le Nuove Musiche
Giulio Caccini (arr. by Luigi Dallapiccola)
POI (2018) **PREMIERE**
DOLCE COMINCIAMENTO (1947) from Quattro Canzoni popolari
DORME PEGASO (1961) from Canti della Lontananza
Gian Carlo Menotti
CARO MIO BEN
O SÌ CHE NON SAPEVO SOSPIRARE (1902)
Nicholas Tamagna is a leading countertenor in his generation singing in many of the world’s opera houses and concert halls. He is a baroque specialist, exploring much of the high baroque repertoire of composers such as Händel, Vinci, and Hasse, but he also enjoys greatly exploring the creation of new works in both the operatic and song literature. He is frequently asked to collaborate in workshops and perform works by contemporary composers with groups like American Opera Projects, Beth Morrison Projects, and independent projects such as the recent film score by Rolando Gori for the film Mr. Sam (to be released in 2019). Recent and upcoming theatrical performances include: Ermanno in Vinci’s Gismondo, Re di Polonia (Theater an der Wien), Silvio in Händel’s Il Pastor Fido (Halle Händelfestspiele), Ottone in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (Florentine Opera), Tullio in Händel’s Alessandro (Markgräfliches Opernhaus Bayreuth), Siroe in Hasse’s Siroe, Re di Persia (Oldenburgisches Staatstheater and the Nederlandse Reisopera), Pompeo in Vivaldi’s Il Farnace (Spoleto Festival USA), The Refugee in Dove’s Flight (Opera Omaha / Oldenburg), Oronte in Riccardo Primo (Händelfestspiele Badisches Staatstheater), Polinesso in Ariodante (Theater Münster), Hassan in Cities of Salt (Royal Opera House Covent Garden), and the Spirit in Dido and Aeneas and To be or not to be (with le Poème Harmonique: at lOpéra de Rouen, de Vichy, Royal de Versailles, and la Philharmonie de Paris). He has performed in concerts at the Bozar in Bruxelles, several times in Carnegie Hall, and David Geffin Hall Lincoln Center in New York City. He is represented by Parnassus Arts Productions and Management in Europe and Sarah Stephens Arts Management in the USA. For more about Nicholas Tamagna, including a list of his recordings, visit nicholastamagna.com.
Inessa Zaretsky is on the Piano faculty of Mannes College, The New School University. She is the Director of the Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival in Asheville, North Carolina and is the Artistic co-director of the Phoenix Chamber Music Series in New York City. For the past 8 years she’s been a resident pianist with Craftsbury Chamber Players in Vermont. Ms. Zaretsky is an award winning pianist and composer whose performances have taken her around the world while her music has been performed in England, Norway, Canada, Australia, Italy , Russia and throughout the United States. She studied piano with Richard Goode and composition with Robert Cuckson at the Mannes College of Music in New York and has collaborated with many notable musicians, such as the Miro, Enso, Jasper and Cassat String Quartets, Kent/Blossom Festival Orchestra, Chamber Music Series of the St. Lukes Orchestra, musicians of the Boston, Chicago and Orpheus Orchestras, members of the Metropolitan Opera and many others.