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Virginia



Virginia

Saverio Mercadante

2 disc set

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ORC39
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Every leading Italian operatic composer of the first six decades of the 19th century had problems with censors. Verdi’s disputes over Rigoletto and Un ballo in maschera were notorious; many other... read more

BUY TRACKS
Song title Time Format Price
playstop01 Virginia: Act I: Introduction03:22
playstop02 Virginia: Act I scena I: Qui Roma 03:14
playstop03 Virginia: Act I scena I: Ahime! ? Ahime! ? 02:54
playstop04 Virginia: Act I scena I: Si vegga la gioia 02:20
playstop05 Virginia: Act I scena II: Cavatina: Di sozza la gioia 03:59
playstop06 Virginia: Act I scena III: Cavatina: Alfin tu giungi! ? 02:02
playstop07 Virginia: Act I scena IV: Cavatina: Al cor furente ed ebro 03:28
playstop08 Virginia: Act I scena V: La, della madre 04:32
playstop09 Virginia: Act I scena V: Cavatina: Figlia, ti scuoti *** FREE DOWNLOAD TRACK ***05:26
playstop10 Virginia: Act I scena V: Cavatina: Icilio, quel magnanimo 05:22
playstop11 Virginia: Act I scena VI: scena and Trio: Tullie, se m'ami 01:57
playstop12 Virginia: Act I scena VII: scena and Trio: Virginia? 06:00
playstop13 Virginia: Act I scena VII: scena and Trio: Come! ? Il ver discerno? 01:40
playstop14 Virginia: Act I scena VIII: scena and Trio: Paventa insano 05:09
playstop15 Virginia: Act I scena VIII: scena and Trio: Dell' odio antico 01:32
playstop16 Virginia: Act I scena VIII: scena and Trio: Calcando il mio cadavere 04:11
playstop17 Virginia: Act II scena I: scena and Aria: Eccomi alfin 02:48
playstop18 Virginia: Act II scena I: scena and Aria: Oh! quante volte 03:18
playstop19 Virginia: Act II scena I: scena and Aria: Oh! me infelice! ? 04:49
playstop20 Virginia: Act II scena II: scena and Duet: Virginio! 02:32
playstop21 Virginia: Act II scena II: scena and Duet: Allor che avvinti 02:48
playstop22 Virginia: Act II scena III: scena and Duet: Eccone a te 01:45
playstop23 Virginia: Act II scena III: scena and Duet: La gioia di quest' anima 03:17
playstop24 Virginia: Act II scena IV: Finale: Dallo stellato empireo 07:24
playstop25 Virginia: Act II scena V: Finale: Fermate ? 03:58
playstop26 Virginia: Act II scena VI: Finale: Iniquo! 06:56
playstop27 Virginia: Act II scena VI: Finale: Ne ti ritraggi 02:38
playstop28 Virginia: Act II scena VI: Finale: Ah! perfido! 03:10
playstop29 Virginia: Act III scena I: scena and Duet: Si, ch'egli lasci 02:31
playstop30 Virginia: Act III scena II: scena and Duet: Ad ora Tarda 00:53
playstop31 Virginia: Act III scena II: scena and Duet: Si opporrebbe 03:08
playstop32 Virginia: Act III scena II: scena and Duet: Tant'osi? 04:54
playstop33 Virginia: Act III scena III: scena and Duet: Come insensata giace 04:24
playstop34 Virginia: Act III scena III: scena and Duet: Sacri Penati 06:09
playstop35 Virginia: Act III scena III: scena and Duet: Che fia? 03:21
playstop36 Virginia: Act III scena V: scena and Finale: In vestimenti squallidi 05:23
playstop37 Virginia: Act III Final scena: Mira d'innanzi 02:20
playstop38 Virginia: Act III Final scena: All' empia sentenza 07:45
playstop39 Virginia: Act III Final scena: Nera idea! ? 00:54
playstop40 Virginia: Act III Final scena: Ah! m'odi almeno 03:08
playstop41 Virginia: Act III Final scena: Ch'io t'annodi 06:41
playstop42 Virginia: Act III Final scena: Or sian divisi 01:55

Every leading Italian operatic composer of the first six decades of the 19th century had problems with censors. Verdi’s disputes over Rigoletto and Un ballo in maschera were notorious; many other works by Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti were rewritten to appease the arbiters of what was deemed morally, religiously or politically correct. An extreme reaction to the censor’s red pencil is provided by the last of Saverio Mercadante’s works to reach the stage. Virginia, completed in 1850, was not performed until 1866 because the composer simply refused to make alterations and it was only after a regime change in 1860-1 that he premiered his score at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples. Like his stirring Orazi e Curiazi (written in 1846 and also recorded by Opera Rara), Virginia is set in ancient Rome and is half-history, half-legend. The heroine, daughter of the soldier Virginio, is assailed by the corrupt and powerful Appio as part of an ongoing conflict between patricians and plebeians that ends with Virginia’s father stabbing his daughter rather than relinquish her to their oppressor.

Booklet includes complete libretto with English translation.

Visit the Opera Rara official YouTube page to hear an excerpt from this recording Virginia

'American soprano Susan Patterson sounds characterful and robust as the beautiful, low-born heroine. If you have a taste for melody and melodrama, try this' - Fiona Maddocks, The Observer (CD of the week)


Susan Patterson (Virginia), Stefano Antonucci (Virginio), Paul Charles Clarke (Appio), Charles Castronovo (Icilio), Andrew Foster-Williams (Marco), Katherine Manley (Tullia), Mark Le Brocq (Valerio), London Philharmonic Orchestra, Maurizio Benini – conductor

Half history, half legend, the story of Virginia was celebrated in the chronicles of ancient Rome, since it brought patrician tyranny to an end for all time.  Following the overthrow of Tarquinius, the last of the kings of Rome, government has passed to the Decemviri, a council of ten patricians.  One of these, Appius Claudius (Appio), in a series of moves designed to secure absolute patrician power, has abolished the office of Tribune of the Plebs, and has passed a law forbidding marriage between patricians and plebeians.  He now, however, wishes to evade his own decree, for he has fallen in love with Virginia, the daughter of a plebeian soldier Virginius (Virginio).  Virginia does not reciprocate his passion, since she is already engaged to the ex-tribune Icilius (Icilio).

ACT ONE.  SCENE ONE.  A sumptuous banquet in the palace of the Decemviri is momentarily interrupted by the sounds, outside, of the funeral procession of Lucius Sicinius Dentatus, a popular hero of the plebs who, it is widely believed, has been murdered by Appius.  We meet Appius himself, a complex figure who condemns his fellow-patricians for their orgiastic and dissolute behaviour, but who also despises himself for the way he allows himself to succumb to his baser desires.  His henchman, Marco, who has been on a mission to try to seduce Virginia on his behalf, brings news that he has failed, for both Virginia and her nurse have proved incorruptible.  Appius is drawn back into the revels by his patrician colleagues.

SCENE TWO.   In the house of Virginio, Virginia’s companions lament her continued grieving before the urn of her dead mother, and invite her to confide in them.  She confirms that her love for Icilio – and his for her – is her one ray of hope in a sea of sorrows.  She urges her nurse, Tullia, to go to the house of her relative, Valerio, in the hope that he will be able to get word to her father, absent at the wars, informing him of her predicament and urging him to return to Rome.

She receives an unexpected and unwelcome visit from Appio.  He tries to woo her, protesting his intense love for her, but she repulses him, denouncing him as a would-be seducer.  He divines that she already has a lover and demands that she reveal his name, but the question is answered, without her having to do so, by the entry of Icilio.  The act ends with a major confrontation between the two rivals, as Virginia herself tries to banish Appio from the house.

ACT TWO.  SCENE ONE.   In the early dawn Virginio returns home.  A tearful reunion takes place between concerned father and relieved daughter.  Virginia pours out the story of Appio’s attempts to seduce her, and, as Valerio and Icilio enter, Virginio declares that the best way of protecting her, especially since he himself has only brief leave of absence from the camp, is for an immediate marriage to take place between her and Icilio.  Tullia is despatched to assemble a bridal procession; Virginio and Valerio hasten to the Temple of Hymen to organize the ceremony; and Icilio and Virginia are left briefly alone until Tullia and her maidens arrive to escort them to the temple.

SCENE TWO.  A great public square, with the Temple of Hymen on one side, and the palace of the Decemviri on the other.   In a brief passage of text which Mercadante did not set, Marco sees the priests preparing altars before the doors of the temple, and goes to inform Appio of what is afoot.

The wedding procession arrives, but before the ceremony can begin Marco returns, accompanied by a number of slaves whom he orders to seize Virginia.  The incipient tumult is quelled when Appio appears from the palace of the Decemvirs, accompanied by lictors.  Marco declares that Virginia is the daughter of one of his slaves, but that she was surreptitiously stolen away and sold to Virginio’s wife.  The claim is hotly denied by Virginio, Icilio and Valerio.  Since Marco will not retract his assertions, Icilio denounces him as the tool of Appio – ‘the evil accomplice of an evil man’.  Appio, in his role as chief magistrate, declares that he will deliver his verdict in the Forum the following morning.  An argument erupts over whether Virginia should spend the intervening twenty-four hours under the protection of her father or in the hands of Marco, and the curtain falls upon a major scene of confrontation between Appio and the patricians and lictors on the one side, and Virginio, Icilio, Virginia and their plebeian supporters on the other.

ACT THREE.  SCENE ONE.  Appio’s appartment.  Marco reports that he has assembled a band of desperadoes, ready to commit any nefarious deed for money.  Appio has summoned Icilio to wait upon him.  He intends to try to induce him to leave Rome, but if he should fail, it will be over to Marco and his men to ambush him in the remote street leading to his home, and to assassinate him.  When Icilio arrives, it is to find himself offered promotion to the position of Praetor in the field, a post generally reserved for a patrician, but the offer carries with it the condition that he should leave immediately to join the legions.  He is not to be deceived.  Realising that this is simply a ruse to get him out of the way, he sternly refuses, declaring that he intends to be present the following morning when Appio delivers his judgment in the Forum.  In an aside, Appio concedes that yes, the following dawn may still see him in Rome, but only as a corpse.

SCENE TWO.  In Virginio’s house a downcast Virginia awaits the return of her father, who has gone to try to speak to Appio.  When he returns, he can only report that Appio refused to see him. 

As father and daughter prepare to set out for the Forum, Virginia stops before the figures of the household gods and takes a tearful leave of them.   There is a further delay as Valerio brings the news of Icilio’s murder.  Virginio is convinced that Appio must be responsible, so that when all eventually depart, it is in a state of fearful and gloomy anticipation.

SCENE THREE.  The Forum, where a large crowd of plebeians is held in check and rebuked by lictors as they watch the arrival of Virginio and Virginia.  Appio mounts the tribune and pronounces his judgment: Virginia, bought by Virginio’s wife when her own baby died, is Marco’s slave and must be returned to her master.  Virginio’s assertion that this is a fabrication is swept aside.  In desperation he asks to be able to embrace Virginia one last time, and Appio, feigning generosity, permits him to do so.  But then, as the lictors advance to take Virginia into their custody, Virginio draws his dagger and stabs her.  She falls and dies, declaring that Virginio has shown himself her true father.  In a spontaneous surge of horrified indignation, the people hurl themselves upon the lictors and assail Appio.