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CHAN 10355M
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CHAN 10355
(multiple CD Set)
Maria di Venosa

d'Avalos: Maria di Venosa

The Classical Shop
release date: September 2005


Philharmonia Orchestra

Francesco dAvalos

Hilary Summers


Susan Bullock


Apollo Voices

Philharmonia Chorus


All Saints' Church, Tooting, London


Brian Culverhouse


Brian Culverhouse

Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos


Total Time - 112:29
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Maria di Venosa

Select Complete Single Disc for


(b. 1930)
premiere recording

Maria di Venosa (1992)

  Music drama for orchestra, soloists and chorus in two parts and fourteen scenes  
  Dramatis personae  
  Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa  
  Maria d'Avalos, Princess of Venosa  
  Fabrizio Carafa, Duke of Andria  
  Giulio Gesualdo, uncle of Carlo  
  Priest Musician in the service of Carlo Gesualdo  
  Laura Scala, chief lady-in-waiting to Maria d'Avalos  
  First Part  
1 Scene I. Castle at Gesualdo - 9:38
  Room of Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa - Night - On the wall there is a portrait of Gesualdo's second wife, Eleonora d'Este -  
2 Scene II. The room of Maria d'Avalos,… 7:38
  …Princess of Venosa, and the adjoining hall in the Palace at Naples on her wedding day -  
3 Scene III. Music room in the Castle at Venosa - 6:01
4 Scene IV. Maria's room in the Castle at Venosa - 9:19
5 Scene V. Music room in the Castle at Venosa - 8:00
6 Scene VI. The garden of the Castle at Venosa on a stormy night - 6:57
7 Scene VII. Ballroom in the Palace of the Viceroy of Naples - Ball 6:00
  Second Part  
8 Scene VII. Ballroomn in the Palace of the Viceroy - 4:45
  Continuation of the last scene of the First Part -  
9 Scene VIII. A balcony of the Palace of the Viceroy during the ball, 5:39
  and the beach beneath it -  
10 Scene IX. Maria's room in the Palace at Naples - 4:08
11 Scene X. A tavern - 10:33
12 Scene XI. Maria's room in the Palace at Naples - 6:44
13 Scene XII. A forest - Hunt - 10:13
14 Scene XIII. Piazza San Domenico in Naples with the 5:06
  Palace in which the Gesualdos live - Night -  
15 Scene XIV. Castle at Gesualdo - Room of Carlo Gesualdo - 11:48
  Night - Sequel to the first scene - Death of Carlo Gesualdo  
This is the premiere recording of Francesco d’Avalos’s opera Maria di Venosa. D’Avalos is renowned as both a composer and conductor, having won many awards in both fields. Maria di Venosa is a musical drama without a libretto in the traditional sense.This recording was conducted by the composer, which gives it a unique stamp of authenticity, and features the internationally famous soprano Susan Bullock who performed in Britten’s Albert Herring (CHAN 10036(2)), and the contralto Hilary Summers who participated in Chandos’ recent recording of Handel’s Partenope (CHAN 0719(3)).

This is a premiere recording.

Two-CD set at mid-price.

The composer writes: My musical education is grounded mainly in the symphonic tradition of central Europe, and I am as close to symphonic music as I am far from the music of opera, though I appreciate the latter. Italian opera achieved its equilibrium in the division between recitative and aria, action and expression, in the eighteenth century. Increasingly thereafter, the libretto, set to music in its entirety, was reduced to a position of secondary importance, the recitatives, which once had helped in the understanding of the plot, eventually disappeared completely, and it became almost impossible to obtain a sense of the stage action, even to make out the words. Opera became assimilated to the idea of absolute music in so far as the musical fabric, predominating over the libretto, asserted itself as an autonomous structure.

These considerations drove me to conceive a musical drama without a libretto in the traditional sense, in which the stage action unfolds as in a silent film, and the orchestra, chorus and a few solo parts take the place of the words. The characters act, but do not sing; and when they do sing it is in situations in which they might do so also in real life. This is what occurs in Maria di Venosa, a tragic opera based on episodes in the life of the composer Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa. The libretto is conceived contemporaneously with the music and shaped uniquely to unite with it, a principle that allows musical dramas to assume very different forms. My opera, partially adopting the technique of the leitmotiv as a unifying device, and also interpolating pieces by Gesualdo and some of his contemporaries, is conceived as though it were an instrumental composition, even if incorporating voices, and may be listened to as pure form, on a par with a symphony. As such, Maria di Venosa has no parallel among other theatrical works, but enters also into the main stream of the western musical tradition, especially as this evolved during the nineteenth century.

While the music is not strictly tonal, it is hardly radical – in fact, much of it is quite lovely and extraordinarily effective… The musical forces perform with exceptional clarity and opulent sound.
American Record Guide

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