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De Nebra: Amor Aumenta El Valor CD

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1. Amor Aumenta El Valor - Various Performers

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On the one side, the Crown Prince of Asturias, Fernando of Bourbon (later Fernando VI of Spain) was betrothed to Princess Maria Bárbara de Braganza of Portugal; on the other, the Spanish Infanta María Ana Victoria was engaged to marry the Prince of Brazil, heir to the Portuguese throne. The opera in question, Amor aumenta el valor, composed by three talented musicians of the Spanish court the Italians Giacomo Facco and Filippo Falconi, and the Spaniard José de Nebra to a libretto by José de Cañizares, was part of a vast and costly celebration intended by the Spanish embassy to impress its guests by exceeding all expectations. Amor aumenta el valor was Jose de Nebra s first commission for the stage of the Spanish Court. It was also his last, for reasons unknown. We can however speculate that it may have been for the simple reason that Nebra was not Italian. Although Amor aumenta el valor was written as a Spanish opera, the librettist, de Cañizares, who was skilled in the art of writing zarzuelas in the style of Calderón, adapted perfectly to the pattern of Italian opera librettos. He used some traditional Spanish elements, but avoided seguidillas, romances and other poetical and musical forms that are absent here. It is possible that Facco was responsible for the overall formal plan of the work. But musically the stylistic unity suffered somewhat, as may be seen if we compare the surviving pieces, Facco s prologue and Nebra s first act: indeed, the formal typologies are the same, but the music differs greatly. The story of Amor aumenta el valor is loosely based on Book II of Livy s History of Rome or Ab urbe condita, relating the last moments of the monarchy and the ascension of the Roman Republic. Cañizares treats this story very freely, altering the chronology of events to the point of reversal, omitting some episodes, and adding new characters Livius, Porcia, and the graciosos Mimo and Calfurnia From 1669 to 1677, the Vicar General of Aragón, second Don Juan de Austria and son of Felipe IV and the actress María Calderón, maintained in the town of Zaragoza a prestigious chamber ensemble formed of highly regarded musicians of diverse origins. The ensemble, named Músicos de Su Alteza, enhanced creativity in Spanish music by his active national presence and exchanges with the rest of Europe. Luis Antonio González founded the present ensemble in 1992 with the aim of reviving the most significant works from that particular period in Spanish baroque. The group works closely with scholars and musicologists, in order to perform as faithfully as possible the original composition. As a result of thorough investigation, Los Músicos de Su Alteza, have re-discovered Joseph Ruiz Samaniego s Villancicos, Vísperas and Lamentaciones as well as works by Juan Pérez Roldán, Filippo Coppola (his opera El robo de Proserpina and his Requiem¬) and José de Nebra.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Super OTW (Out of this World) 30 Jun. 2012
By Ronald Gold - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Back when, there was a classical disc jockey on radio who'd refer to his favorite recordings as "Super OTW" or really out of this world. That's the only phrase I can think of for this sumptuous recording, made in 2009 in Saragossa, Spain.

First off, the music. One sensationally beautiful aria after another, winding up with a duet to swoon for. I've heard quite a bit by Nebra (1702-1768) who, judging by the number of recent recordings, is gradually gaining recognition as a major Spanish composer. But this, the first act of three commemorating the nuptials of some teenage royalty (the other two acts, now lost, were by other composers) is the most appealing work of his that I've encountered.

This may be due to the ravishing performance, conducted by Luis Antonio Gonzalez and featuring seven extraordinary soloists, all but one of them women. It absolutely amazes me that I've never heard of Ollala Aleman or Maria Eugenia Boix, whose purity of tone, perfect phrasing, virtuosity and interpretative mastery in the two leading roles, should catapult them to international prominence. The instrumental ensemble, Los Musicos de su Alteza, also deserves the highest praise. In short, I'd advise immediate acquisition of this cd.
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