Libretto by Metastasio (I)
2S,3CT(S,2A),2T,B; mixed chorus; ballet;
World premiere of version
Theater an der Wien, Wien
Nussbaum Cohen / Balzer / Schwartz u.a. / Il complesso barocco / Alan Curtis
In celebration of Gluck’s 300th birthday, Alan Curtis has prepared for performance this very fine, almost totally unknown opera composed by the thirty-eight-year-old Gluck for Milan in 1743. All the numbers have been preserved, but nearly all the secco recitatives are lost. Curtis has followed the lead of Handel (cf. Semiramide, in this series) in reducing the text to a minimum and composing afresh the missing secco recitatives, though, unlike Handel, he has consciously imitated Gluck's recitative style, using especially Ipermestra (Venice, 1744) as a model. The role of Timante was created for the famous castrato, Carestini (Handel's Ariodante, Ruggiero, Teseo, etc.), whose voice by this time had dropped about a third, so that he was a contralto rather than a mezzo-soprano. In a letter of Feb. 20, 1743, he wrote to the Marchese degli Obizzi about the Milan production of Demofoonte that "Quest'opera l'abbiamo rappresentata per prima in Milano nel corrente carnevale; s'accerti, che niun dramma ha avuto più felice ed universale incontro di questo; sì per il merito della vaghissima e ben adattata musica, che per il bellissimo intreccio e forza del libretto."
Edition performed and recorded for the first time in Vienna in November 2014.