Johann Adolph Hasse (1699-1783) was one of the most popular and eminent composers of the eighteenth century, and composed a total of 62 operas. For nearly half a century he delighted singers and audiences alike with the classical restraint and lyrical beauty of his music, and he was one of very few ‘foreigners’ to enjoy lasting success in Italy, acquiring the nickname ‘il caro Sassone’ (‘the dear Saxon’). The renowned chronicler Charles Burney wrote that Hasse “may without injury to his brethren be allowed to be as superior to all other lyric composers as Metastasio is to all other lyric poets”.
Piramo e Tisbe was first performed at an unidentified country estate near Vienna in the autumn of 1768. Hasse himself regarded it as his finest work, and it is by far the most experimental and forward-looking of his compositions, incorporating and developing many of Gluck’s operatic reforms in music of sumptuous lyricism and pathos. The richly textured and often through-composed score was as unusual in its time as the subject matter, which is drawn from a tragic tale in Book 4 of Ovid’s celebrated Metamorphoses, and this long-overdue UK première promises to be one of the highlights of the London opera season.
Sung in the original Italian with English surtitles.
Running time approximately 1 hour 50 minutes including one interval.
Pre-concert talk, 6.15pm (free entry with concert ticket)