OP0337. LA PÚRPURA DE LA ROSA (Tomás de Torrejón y Velasco), recorded 1990, Paris, w. René Clemencic Cond. Clemencic Consort & La Capella Vocal Ensemble; Mieke van der Sluis, Mark Tucker, Pedro Liendo, Luiz Alves Da Silva, Elisabeth von Magnus, Josep Benet, Lina Akerlund, Andrea Martin, John Winbigler, Pamela Mildenhall, Stephanie Prewitt, etc. (Italy) Nuova Era 6936, Slipcase Edition w.46pp. Libretto-Brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy!
“LA PÚRPURA DE LA ROSA was originally a play written by the Spanish author Pedro Calderón de la Barca. It is written in lush, polymetric verse, filled with mythological imagery, and sets the Ovidian tale of the loves of Venus and Adonis. Extremely erotic and very popular at the Spanish court, this play was produced as a semi-opera, with music by Juan Hidalgo, in 1660. Calderón and Hidalgo worked closely together to create the new genre which later became known as the Spanish zarzuela. The work was originally produced to help celebrate the dynastic alliance between the Bourbons and the Hapsburgs, when Maria Teresa of Spain was wed to the young Louis XIV of France. This alliance helped to solidify the Peace of the Pyrenees between the two countries, which had been being negotiated for several years. LA PÚRPURA DE LA ROSA was produced as a fully sung opera, in order to compete with the opulence of the French court at Versailles. The premiere took place in the Coliseo of the Buen Retiro palace of Madrid, on January 17, 1660. Venus is depicted in the music and the poetry as an insistently erotic goddess, while the beautiful Adonis is given lyrical, yearning melodies. Marte is a burlesqued character who blusters his way through the drama, inflamed with jealousy yet unable to do anything about it.
In 1701, Hidalgo's work became the first opera to be performed in the New World. The score makes use of a variety of Spanish song types, and the simple, lyrical forms leave the intense eroticism of the text in high relief. Dance rhythms, musical repetitions, and sensual and ornamental writing set this tale of seduction and love with carnal energy. One of the highlights occurs when Adonis tells Venus of his dream of the hunt. He tells her of his thoughts during slumber that have brought him to this waking state next to her. Their scene together is intimate and equivocal, as the harmonies waver between major and minor, and chromatic alterations weave in and out of the vocal lines. In Venus' garden the two are accompanied by a double choir of nymphs as they converse and make love to ornate, sensual music.”
- Rita Laurance, allmusic.com