Achilles in Skyros at last in the Royal Theater

Achilles in Skyros
Achilles in Skyros at last in the Royal Theater

Francesco Brusa (1705-1778)
dramatic opera in three acts
Libreto de Pietro Metastasio (1698-1782)
Premiered at the Real Coliseo del Buen Retiro in Madrid
he 8 December 1744.
Work recovered by the Complutense Institute of Musical Sciences (ICCMU)
New production of Teatro Real, in co-production
at the Theater an der Wien.
D. musical: Ivor Bolton
D. scene: Mariame Clement
Set designer and costume designer: Julia Hansen
Choreographer: Mathieu Guilhaumon
illuminator: Ulrik Gad
D. choir: Andrés Máspero
Distribution: Gabriel Diaz, Mirco Palazzi, Tim Mead, Francesca Aspromonte,
Sabina Puertolas, Christian Ada,mJuan Sancho y Katia Klein
Orquesta Barroca de Sevilla
Titular Choir of the Teatro Real
The opera Achilles in Skyros by Francesco Corselli finally arrived at the Teatro Real. This work belongs to one of the most interesting and least known periods in the history of opera.. We know a lot about the works of Montevedi or Handel, but there is an information gap regarding what happened in the operatic world during the years 1730 a 1770. This is one of the reasons why this premiere is important. Achilles in Skyros is a very interesting photograph of what operatic life was like in the 18th century..
Few were the operas that were written in Spain at that time, only on the occasion of great court events. Precisely Achilles in Sciros was a gift from the Madrid City Council to the Infanta of Spain María Teresa Rafaela, to celebrate her marriage to the Dauphin of France. This is the main reason why the score has been preserved almost intact in the Historical Library of Madrid.. And it is here where it has been rescued and polished, to reach its premiere, by musicologist Álvaro Torrente, of the Complutense Institute of Musical Sciences, together with Ana Llorens and Alberto Cubero, who have taken care of the score and Nicola Usala, from the script.
Francesco Corselli was born in Piacenza, but very soon he moved to Madrid and became part of a large group of Italian artists who had arrived in the capital at the hands of Isabel de Farnesio, like Domenico Scarlatti, Farinelli, Gaetano Brunetti or Luigi Boccherini.
Corselli was appointed Master of the Royal Chapel. He composed numerous works of which only three were operas for the court. But neither Corselli nor his work became widely known.. Despite the fact that at that time Madrid was the operatic capital of Europe, Spain was always considered irrelevant, Musically speaking.
At that time the librettists were more important than the composers, and for Achilles in Sciros none other than Pietro Metastasio was chosen, the most important librettist in the history of opera. His librettos have been the most versioned and his work marks the evolution of opera from the 18th century. The most important composers, like Handel or Mozart, they have put music to their stories.
The score is a real gem.. Its structure follows the conventions of an opera seria., although it contains humorous elements, cappo arias, recitatives, choirs... It highlights the quality of the arias and the way in which the feelings of the characters are expressed.
But the score has also presented some problems, mainly related to wind instruments. Not conserving the parts, it has been necessary to rewrite those of the oboes, since the writing of the winds is very different today.
Another peculiarity of his composition is Corselli's great imagination when it comes to introducing exotic instruments, like the psalter, which appears at the end of the opera with great prominence in an aria by Achilles. His sound, almost magical, gives a very special color, generating its own atmosphere and giving the opera a great personality.
The story that the libretto tells us is located in the Trojan Wars. Aunt, mother of Achilles, he fears that the bad omens for his son Achilles will come true if he participates in the battle. To prevent his departure, he dresses him as a woman calling him Pyrrha and entrusts his safety to King Nicomede. The story begins when Pirra has already fallen in love with Idamia, Nicomede's daughter. Ulises, who suspects that Achilles lives in hiding in Skyros, manages to discover him and that he accompanies him to war, where he finally dies.
The scenography of this production of the Teatro Real has been in charge of the French Mariane Clément, who has recreated the inside of a cave, as a maternal-protective element of Achilles, in a dream environment, thanks to lighting by Ulrik Gad and costumes by Julia Hansen. A scene full of stalactites, passages and catwalks where the action takes place.
The musical director Ivor Bolton has directed from the harpsichord to the Seville Baroque Orchestra and the Monteverdi Continuo Ensemble that, along with their period instruments, have played a crucial role in the success of this work. Noteworthy is the psalter, in the magical hands of Heidelore Schauer.
Achilles in Sciros has a very powerful theatrical part, so singers with high interpretative abilities are needed.
The characters of Aquiles and Pirra have been interpreted by the countertenor Gabriel Díaz, replacing a sick Franco Fagioli. The Sevillian has resolved with ease and brilliance some roles that are not easy, has no less than seven arias, some of beautiful invoice, com Come back at peace. Although the written range is higher than that of his instrument, he has bravely defended his double character. very good at recitatives.
The Italian bass Mirco Palazzi was a poor-voiced Licomede king, dull and low volume. He won integers in his stage performance.
Italian soprano Francesca Aspromonte, shone in the role of Deidamia, the great love of Achilles and the character with the most dramatic arias. Very good in agility and delicate in the most romantic parts, como su aria Who can tell, along with Bojan Čičić's violin solo.
The most applauded of the night was undoubtedly the soprano Sabina Puértolas, like Teagene. She was very confident in the agility and shone accompanied by the trumpeter Bruno Fernandes in her aria Con tromba d'or.
At a great height was the Arcade of the Polish tenor Krystian Adam. It has a beautiful and warm timbre. His performance as Ulysses' servant is also very good.
The British countertenor Tim Mead was in charge of giving life to the other hero of the work, Ulises. He was confident with his beautiful high-pitched timbre.
The Sevillian Juan Sancho, well known to the Real Madrid public, He has also had a very good performance as Nearco, both in the vocal part and in the interpretation.
Parallel to the story told, the intra-story was developed on stage with the royal family as the protagonist. Infanta Maria Teresa, character to whom the composition was dedicated, appears and sometimes interacts with the characters. In the final scene he is accompanied by the entire royal family.
It was wise to schedule this Achilles in Skiros after it was suspended due to the confinement caused by the covid pandemic. Three years have passed since then and we must remember some absences who were looking forward to that premiere and now have not been to see it. Like my dear Ofelia Roca and Paco Mejorana.