Budapest Chamber Opera

Budapest Chamber Opera was founded in 1991 by Domokos Moldován. It was created to serve the core objective of presenting 17-18th-century – as well as contemporary – operas, and producing video and audio recordings. The next important objective is to assist and promote young vocal and instrumental talents at the beginning of their career by way of organizing courses and opera productions. The band’s multi-decade spanning repertoire ranges from masterpieces of olden days (e.g., the complete works by Monteverdi, Handel, Vivaldi and Mozart's operas) to contemporary composers (including Eötvös, Sáry, Vidovszky just to name a few).

Led by Pál Németh the Savaria Chamber Opera has been operating since 1993 with a view to introducing and popularizing the genre of opera to the young public by putting small-cast chamber opera productions on stage. Over the past twenty years numerous venues – among them schools, community centers, and often outdoor sites – have hosted hundreds of performances. The repertoire includes the works by Pergolesi, J. Haydn, Mozart, Lully, Dittersdorf, Roskovsky.

Savaria Baroque Orchestra serves as the permanent orchestra for both ensembles. Musical director Pál Németh also took charge of Budapest Chamber Opera in the autumn of 2013 merging the activities of the two companies. The long-term goal remains as always: to be faithful to both objectives, namely, the rediscovery of masterpieces of olden days, the presentation of works by contemporary composers, and to educate the youth in an ever growing number about the love of exacting music and opera.

G. B. Pergolesi: La serva padrona – opera buffa

Cast:

Uberto, elderly bachelor (bass), Serpetta, the maid (soprano), Vespone, silent servant

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736), Italian composer lived and worked in a historically important date of style history: Baroque and Rococo. His most famous work, which has immortalized the author, La serva padrona (The Servant as Mistress), was originally intended as a playful interlude of a serious opera of his (Il prigioniero, 1733 - intermezzo buffo). The sound of his music radiating high spirits springs from the world of Neapolitan song.

The typical figures and situations of the Italian farce, commedia dell'arte show up in the plot. Uberto, the old and rich bachelor wants to get rid of his young, pretty but sharp-tongued servant’s (Serpetta = little snake) tyranny, so he decides to get married. Gritty Serpetta decides that no one but she can be the mistress of the house. In order for her plan to succeed she forms an alliance with the mute servant (Vespone = Hornet) who appears disguised as Captain Storm. The effect of his threatening display causes Uberto to marry his maid servant so Serpetta does become the mistress of the house at the end of the opera.

The work, which was written for a small ensemble of performers (two singers, a silent character, strings, and a harpsichord), received uproarious praise, and set the trend of development of Italian comic opera (opera buffa) for a long time to come, and had a direct impact on the emergence of its French equivalent – Opéra Comique – as well.

J. Haydn: The Apothecary

Comic opera (opera buffa) in two acts for Carlo Goldoni’s text

Using Carlo Goldoni’s libretto, Joseph Haydn wrote The Apothecary in 1768 for the opening of the opera house at the Eszterhazy palace. The characters and the plot follow the footsteps of the Italian commedia dell ' arte with its archetypal figures and situations such as the aging, wealthy bachelor (Sempronio, the apothecary - buffo tenor), Grilletta (little cricket, a telltale name - lyric soprano), a young and pretty girl, his ward, her lover, (Mengone - lyric tenor) a young but poor apothecary apprentice, and a careless, rich, young man, Volpino (little fox - comic mezzo-soprano or tenor). During the cross-dressing complications false notaries and disguised Turks appear. To accompany the entertaining plot Haydn’s music is witty and varied, using the appropriate means and simple but well-drawn figures, as well as virtuoso arias and fabulously composed finales.

Synopsis:

Sempronio, the elderly apothecary and passionate newspaper reader lives for imaginary journeys. He also plans to marry his stepdaughter, Grilletta, who is also loved by two other characters at the same time: the apothecary’s assistant, Mengone, and a rich and cunning dandy, Volpino. Grilletta soon tells Volpino where his place is, who, on the pretext of a customer buying laxatives, tries to woo her. In the last scene of the first act Grilletta and Mengone exchange words of love in Sempronio’s presence. Despite the apothecary’s complete immersion in the redrawing of the map, he does notice what is going on under his roof, and promptly disposes of his assistant.

Volpino tries his luck with the angry Sempronio to give her ward 's hand, but the apothecary rejects his request. Volpino presents an anecdote, which he previously found in the newspaper, about a French foster father, who, having refused his daughter’s suitor, was threatened with death by hanging. Once left alone again, the pharmacist pledges to get the girl for himself. Meanwhile, the lovers quarrel, and Grilletta reproaches Mengone for his cowardice that he dare not ask the old gentleman for her hand, and in order to punish her shy sweetheart, she mentions her possible marriage to Volpino. Finally she even chases Mengone away and vows to wed the first candidate to come her way. Sempronio announces his intention to marry her at this well-chosen moment, and she, though reluctantly, says yes. Two notaries appear in the persons of the disguised Volpino and Mengone. The pharmacist dictates the prenuptial agreement to both of the notaries but they both write their own names on it. After the imposture gets revealed they have to leave.

Volpino returns and announces to the chemist that the plague-stricken Turks are intent on buying a huge stock of medicine from him. Volpino acts as a mediator who has a vested financial interest in the transaction. In the meantime, the lovers make up. Sempronio is getting ready to leave for Constantinople accompanied by Volpino dressed as a Turk, to whom Sempronio has promised his daughter’s hand. After Volpino’s "Turkish style" aria in the finale the two lovers sing of their happiness, the ill-fared pharmacist and the suitor are in a rage. The piece finally ends in a general euphoria.

W. A. Mozart: Bastien and Bastienne – Singspiel

Cast:
Bastienne young shepherdess (Soprano), Bastien young shepherd boy (tenor) Colas, the village Wizard (bass)

Mozart wrote his small singspiel in 1768 based on Devine du Village (Village Soothsayer) by Rousseau. With amazing ease, the 12-year-old prodigy composer re-versifies with high confidence the musical language of his era: French style rococo, Viennese song and folksy music mix into German song play (Singspiel).

Synopsis:

Bastienne thinks that her lover, Bastien, has been unfaithful to her and, full of sorrow, she seeks the advice of the wise and kind-hearted master Colas, who is reputed as a wizard. He does not disappoint her. She learns what she needs to do: be a little flirty, pretend as if she fell for someone else, and arouse Bastien’s jealousy. Naturally, the plan bears fruit – with the help of some innocent magic – and the lovers happily embrace each other again. The singspiel was ordered by the one-time world-renowned Dr. Mesmer, the master of the magnetism, who provided his own garden theater for the venue of the show.

Jean -Baptiste Lully: The Carnival

Musical merrymaking in costumes

Ten scenesof merrymaking with dancing, music and costumes in four languages (French, Italian, Spanish, gibberish Turkish) for the words by Molière, Quinault, Bensérade, and Lully's music. It premiered in 1675 in Paris, at the Royal Academy of Music.

Overture: Celebration of the return of the Carnival.

Scene I: Three Spanish singers, one of whom complains about love, the remaining two comfort him, and they are accompanied by three other Spanish men and women dancing.

Scene II: An Italian schoolmaster called Barbacolaand his disciples’ scene.

Scene III: An Italian citizen calledPourceaugnac, asks for justice, because two French women want the world to believe that he has married both of them.

Scene IV: Philène andTircis, scene of shepherds and shepherdesses.

Scene V: Italians and Egyptians.

Scene VI: The Mufti. A Turkish ceremony with music and dance to make a citizen noble in the Turkish way.

Scene VII: The newly-weds.

Scene VIII: Four gypsy girls accompanyon the guitar asinging and dancing Egyptian woman, with some Basque and Egyptian accompaniment.

Scene IX: A (personified) Courting accompanied by singing and dancingBasques and clowns.

Scene X: All the participants of the Carnival, Courtship and masquerade gather.

J. Haydn: La canterina (The Songstress)

(Intermezzo in Musica)
Joseph Haydn lived and worked for decades at Eszterháza (today Fertőd, Hungary) and Kismarton (today Eisenstadt, Austria) as the Esterházy court composer and conductor. His first opera buffa (the intermezzo titled The Songstress) was first presented during the 1767 carnival in Bratislava.

The plot and the characters are familiar from the commedia dell' arte genre. The scene this time around is the theater world through a mocking glass. - Gasparina, the young songstress and her theater mother (older girlfriend) named Apollonia, deem it appropriate for the novice artist to simultaneously have two faithful supporters. When the double game gets exposed the aging and more rigorous lover, Don Pelagio, the song master prepares to take revenge on Gasparina by taking back the furniture he lent to her. However, the songstress knows too well how to disarm his rage by applying the female weapons of threatening with suicide and fainting. The man’s anger becomes compassion, and the story comes to completion with a moral as Gasparina receives a full purse from the older of her supporters, and a gift ring from the younger one (Don Ettore, a rich merchant’s son). The relationship to Pergolesi's masterpiece, La serva padrone (The Servant as Mistress) and Haydn's opera buffa; in both pieces the upset party’s compassion is provoked, therefore the blow originally aimed at the heroine gets reversed. Female shrewdness and unscrupulous ambition triumph over male stupidity and vehemence.

Haydn successfully applies in his musical characterization the proven tools of intermezzo: character portrayal, mockery of serious opera (opera seria), but surpassing these, he also applies freer and more vivacious dramatic elements. The closing quartet of the first act is an outstanding composition in which Don Pelagio’s furious tantrum, Gasparini’s despair, Apollonia’s audacity and Don Ettore’s gentler mood all find their musical expression. By creating his first work in the genre Haydn proved his talent for opera buffa.

G. Ph. Telemann: The Schoolmaster

Comic cantata for baritone solo, two-part children's choir and orchestra
The author describes one school day in the life of an early 18th century haggard cantor teacher. He applies great irony to depict a singing lesson with a schoolmaster passionate about his own art and his dunce students.

At the beginning we listen to a sublime prelude, one used to welcome rulers, to which the schoolmaster marches in. Already at this point we can be sure that he wants to appear more than he really is. He produces fanfare-like interval leaps during his introduction, thus emphasizing his own importance. Then, as usual, the lesson begins. The teacher sings a tune which the students should imitate. He sings the tones C, D, E, F, G, A, H, C very long, indicating that he does not have much faith in the children. It is with this choir that he first gets really angry; nevertheless, he does not care much whether the students understand what makes him irritated. Nor is he concerned whether the water and beer comparison is appropriate for children.

And then the master is introduced as a singer. Through a few cheerful gestures the music here demonstrates a big difference between the song of self-praise and the teacher’s actual performance. At the end of the first part of the aria we can already recognize the braying donkey tune that appears at the end of the cantata. In the second part he attempts some bold interval leaps, but right in the middle of the most important part his voice fails him. To divert attention from this error, he pretends to have been disrupted by the children and makes a second attempt but fails yet again. He manages to escape the painful situation by repeating the first part.

After the singing incident the teacher plucks up new courage. Not even the composers the famous Telemann and the also well-known Hasse could have done better, he says. He goes on to immediately find a scapegoat for his own blunging: it is the beat which the students cannot keep. Telemann and Hasse’s only success is that they were simply more fortunate.

Now the teacher tells the students that together they will sing a fugue. This is a difficult piece of music that will surely be too challenging for the students, but that does not influence him at all. As expected, the disciples, of course, cannot immediately sing the fugue well. No wonder, as the teacher simply forgot to explain to them when they have to enter. The second time around he once presents the melody and, as usual, the students just listen. (The lyrics of the fugue come from an old canon in which the students can demonstrate their frustration over their having to deal with Latin and Greek studies) But as he still has not explained to them how to sing a fugue, their entry does not work again. Naturally, there is no one else to blame but the dimwitted children. The teacher realizes too late that no one is singing along with him, but then finally he gives them the right instructions and so the fugue begins to sound good immediately.

The fugue turns out very well, but due to his students’ incompetence the schoolmaster gets more and more worked up. He accuses them for making him sick, moreover, for being the main reason for his early death. During his singing the students never cease to fidget, which infuriates him so that he is hardly able to keep the tempo. He needs something jollier to cheer him up. The idea that once he will really show the dumb students what he is capable of dispels his anger. Once more, he attempts a very difficult piece of song. His closing words ultimately sum up this cheerful little cantata: those who do not love and respect music, who reluctantly listen to this art, are a huge ass and will always remain one