OP2590. AMOR INGEGNOSO (Mayr), Live Performance, 2010, Bergamo, w.Pellucchi Cond. Stefania Ferrari, Livio Scarpellini, Filippo Morace, etc. (Italy) Bongiovanni 2456, w.60pp. Libretto-Brochure. - 8007068245628
“When his second opera LODOISKA was staged at La Fenice in Venice, Giovanni Simone Mayr rapidly became a major name among European opera composers. His solid reputation rested above all on his strongly classical style and care in ensuring that his music suited the libretto, which made his material easily recognizable and kept audiences interested, whether in the drama of opera seria or the farce of opera buffa. And certain of Mayr's techniques, particularly in his instrumental music, were so successful as to be imitated by all other composers of the time, particularly the crescendo, which he first used in LODOISKA and subsequently worked into every one of his operas.
The overture of AMOR INGEGNOSO has the famous crescendo, whose renown has come down to us; that crescendo which, when they first heard it, made the listeners rise unawares from their seats and burst into a clamour of applause at its end. It is nothing much; it is a crescendo which would be called exactly like Rossini if it had been written twenty years later, nor was the crescendo unknown before Mayr. It is supposed to have been invented by Jomelli; if not, perhaps it is even older because Jomelli certainly and his contemporaries and those after him all used it. But that crescendo which is often had with one phrase alone of its kind, which step by step is brought up from the bass of the violins to the uppermost treble, is strengthened by the entry of other instruments and by the onward movement in small degrees of a continuing and uniform accompaniment: in short that crescendo which is well-known among us by the name of Rossini crescendo because Rossini loved to introduce it, I would say, in almost every piece in his operas, was first used by Mayr in this overture.
Mayr produced most of his comic material in Venice between 1796 and 1807, although from 1802 his career went in a decidedly different direction with his appointment as maestro di cappella at the Basilica of S. Maria Maggiore in Bergamo and with his decision to concentrate on the more serious side of opera. His one-act farces were written in just a few years, between 1797 and 1800.
The librettist for the farces AMOR INGEGNOSO and L’UBBIDIENZA PER ASTUZIA was Catterino Mazzolà (nicknamed Cupola), an enfant prodige of opera lyrics. From 1780 for almost twenty years he worked for Frederick Augustus III the Elector of Saxony and briefly replaced Lorenzo Da Ponte as court poet\poeta cesareo Controllare in Vienna. Mazzolà had written librettos for Pietro Guglielmi, Giovanni Paisiello, Niccolò Piccinni, Antonio Salieri and other major composers of the time, but his main claim to fame is as author of the libretto for Mozart's La clemenza di Tito.
Including his five farse giocose and reworkings of several scores, Mayr composed thirty-five comic operas. Most are in the opera buffa genre or are two-act (or two-part) farces, while less than a quarter are farces in one act. The instrumental forces for AMOR INGEGNOSO comprise strings and pairs of woodwinds, (flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons, although there is only one of the latter), plus horns, trumpets and timpani. In keeping with tradition, a harpsichord is obbligato to accompany recitativo secco passages. Mayr's customary accuracy in drafting his score made our task of critical revision all the easier and more confident. Valeriano Sacchiero scrupulously transcribed and edited the score and Alberto Sonzogni created the version for voice and piano.
The farce AMOR INGEGNOSO comprises 21 sung numbers: recitatives, a substantial finale and arias and duets whose structure varies considerably. The final concertato clearly demonstrates that Mayr's care and attention to vocal counterpoint was far superior to many famous instances of opera seria by his contemporaries.
AMOR INGEGNOSO was written and staged immediately after events which had a marked effect on politics and society in Venice. On 12 May 1797, the city council met for the last time and surrendered to the French. Then, on 17 October that year, Venice became a bargaining chip and was handed over to Austria with the treaty of Campoformido. The greatness and prosperity of Venice were associated more with a spirit of trade than with a few noble families. This explains, at least in part, the ease with which farces often mocked the failings of minor aristocrats. Furthermore, French control of Venice had emphasized the role of the army and its connection with daily life, hence the joyful choral tribute to military life in the finale of AMOR INGEGNOSO – the sole moment when the libretto appears to have no connection with events on stage – makes complete sense. In fact, in subsequent years when the French maintained a strong presence in Northern Italy, the concluding number of AMOR INGEGNOSO turned into a musical tribute to Napoleon. Indeed, a large number of operas were dedicated to him and the key character was systematically identified with the Corsican conqueror.
Most late-18th century Italian composers died almost totally forgotten, almost as though that were the price to pay for symbolizing an era shaken to the core by events in France. Giovanni Simone Mayr the man survived the turbulence of his life and times, while Giovanni Simone Mayr the composer has emerged unscathed from two centuries of turbulence in music, with evidence of his greatness in both opera seria and opera buffa very much intact.”
- Pierangelo Pelucchi, BETWEEN FARCE AND OPERA SEMISERIA