Alessandro Stradella is a romantic opera in three acts composed by Friedrich von Flotow to a German libretto by "Wilhelm Friedrich" (Friedrich Wilhelm Riese). Set in Venice and the countryside near Rome, it is loosely based on the colourful life of the 17th century Italian composer and singer Alessandro Stradella. It was first performed in its full version on 30 December 1844 at the Stadttheater in Hamburg. After being forgotten for many years, the Wexford Opera Festival revived the opera in 2001 as part of the festival's 50th anniversary season. The Wexford production, directed by Thomas de Mallet Burgess and designed by Julian McGowan, set the opera in Flotow's time rather than Stradella's.
Conceived and produced by Giulio Cesare Ricci
Recorded by Hein Dekker (Philips International B.V.) and Carl Schuurbiers (Polyhymnia)
Recorded at the Theatre Royal, Wexford on 24th, 27th and 30th October 2001
Daniele Callegari conductor
Lubomir Mátl chorus master
Stefano Costa Alessandro Stradella
Andrei Antonov Bassi
Ekaterina Morozova Leonore
František Zahrandícek Malvolio
Declan Kelly Barbarino
Wexford Festival Opera Chorus
National Philharmonic Orchestra of Belarus
Stradella is discovered in a gondola with some of his music students as they sing a hymn to Venice and then a serenade to his beloved Leonore. She appears on the balcony and warns him against her guardian, Bassi, a rich Venitian who has incarcerated her and who, against her will, plans to marry her the next day. Stradella arranges to flee with Leonore, and the pair take advantage of a tumultous carnival procession to elope. While Bassi gets caught up amongst the masked revellers Stradella and Leonore slip away.
In front of Stradella's country house near Rome. Leonore, in brial array, rejoices in her good fortune. To the sound of bells Stradella leads her amid a procession of guests to the wedding ceremony. Malvolio, a bandit who has been engaged by Bassi to assassinate Stradella, now arrives, and is surprised to find that his associate, the bandit Barbarino, is there with the same mandate. When the marriage procession returns, the bandits introduce themselves as pilgrims. Stradella invites them to join in the celebrations, then sings a romance which describes the compassion and kindness that lie deep in the hearts of robbers who steal from the rich and artists who steal from nature. This song so moves Malvolio and Barbarino that they abandon their murderous plan.
The composer, Leonore and the bandits sing in praise of the beauty of Italy. The young couple move on to join a group of pilgrims and Bassi appears to see whether his instructions have been carried out. Overhearing the two assassins declare that they no longer have the heart to kill Stradella, he substantially increases his fee and they agree to perform the task. The three conspirators creep up on Stradella just as he starts rehearsing the hymn ‘Jungfrau Maria' for the festival of the Virgin Mary the following day. They are so overwhelmed by the pious strains of Stradella's song that they, and Bassi, repent. Stradella forgives them as the pilgrims await the divine grace that his music will elicit.