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Ippolito ed Aricia

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Title: Ippolito ed Aricia  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Carlo Innocenzo Frugoni, Tommaso Traetta, Patrizia Ciofi, The opera corpus, Laura Claycomb, List of operas by Traetta
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Ippolito ed Aricia

Ippolito ed Aricia is a "reform opera" in five acts by Tommaso Traetta with an Italian libretto by Carlo Innocenzo Frugoni. The opera is based upon abbé Simon-Joseph Pellegrin's libretto for Rameau's earlier opera Hippolyte et Aricie, which was in turn based on Racine's tragedy Phèdre. The opera premiered at the Teatro Ducale in Parma on May 9, 1759 and is still occasionally performed by opera companies today.[1][2]

Background and musical analysis

Ippolito ed Aricia was commissioned in 1759 by Guillaume du Tillot, a minister for Philip, Duke of Parma, on behalf of the duke and his wife, Princess Louise Élisabeth of France. At that time, both France and Spain thought of Parma as a strategic point of interest and subsidized the court heavily. The duke and his wife were particularly fond of French opera and Tillot promoted all forms of French musical theater at the court. However, Tillot decided that he wanted to commission an opera for the court that would merge Italian musical idioms, such as beautiful melodies and virtuosic coloratura display, with French dramatic forms like choruses, ballet, and supernatural elements. He approached Carlo Innocenzo Frugoni, court poet of Parma, with the idea of creating such an opera using the Italian text of Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie. He agreed, and Tillot proceeded to recruit Tommaso Traetta to compose the music and Count Francesco Algarotti to assist Frugoni with the libretto.

The resulting work is a rare successful blend of Italian opera seria elements and the French tragédie lyrique. The opera has virtuosic exit arias in the opera seria tradition of Metastasio but is organized into five acts, as in French opera. There are 12 characters in the drama, four prominent instrumental sinfonias, elaborate choruses, and 26 dances, most of which are organized into suites. The instrumentation is highly creative and often employs solo or independent viola writing. Obbligato recitative is used for moments of extreme drama, and here the orchestral accompaniment is elaborate and complex. Choral movements are large and often involve solo passages for various members of the cast. Du Tillot advertised the performance extensively. The production was lavish and brilliant and the opera a huge success, for nothing like it had ever been tried before.[3]

Major roles

Role Voice type Premiere cast, May 9, 1759
Teseo (Theseus), king of Athens tenor
Ippolito (Hippolytus), son of Teseo castrato
Fedra (Phaedra), Teseo's wife and stepmother to Ippolito soprano
Enone (Oenone), nurse and confidante of Fedra soprano
Aricia, princess of the blood royal of Athens soprano Caterina Gabrielli
Diana, a goddess soprano
Plutone (Pluto) bass
Tisifone tenor


  • Ippolito ed Aricia with conductor David Golub, the Orchestra Internazionale d'Italia, and the Bratislava Chamber Choir. The cast includes Angelo Manzotti (Hippolytus), Patrizia Ciofi (Aricia), Elena Lopéz (Phaedra), Simon Edwards (Theseus), Maria Miccoli (Oenone), Stefania Donzelli (Diana), Luca Grassi (Plutone), Monica Sesto (Tisifone), Saverio Fiore (Mercurio), Sara Allagretta (High priestess), Angela Masi (Una Marinajna), Rossana Potenza (Una Cacciatrice), and Loredana Cinieri (Le Parche Madia Todisco). Recorded live in 1999 and released in 2000.[4]


  • Amadeus Almanac, accessed 12 September 2008
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