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Operosa terni colossi moles: A congratulatory serenata for the Count of Questenberg by the Jaromerice capellmeister Frantisek Antonin Mica.

The court of the art-loving Johann Adam Count of Questenberg (1678-1752) was important centre of late Baroque culture in Moravia. During a costly redevelopment of his country residence in Jaromerice nad Rokytnou (upon Rokytna), led perhaps by the famous Viennese architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt (1668-1745), the extensive residence complex also came to include the newly built parish church of St Margaret, which also served as a castle chaple, garden theatre, or theatre hall. But Questenberg also lavished much attention on music. He was an active lute player and had a lively interest in musical events in Vienna, where he often stayed at the imperial court, and where he also had a palace available. At his own court, he established an ensemble of musically talented serfs, and beginning in 1722, the theatre at the palace hosted opera performances.

Frantisek Antonin Mica (1696-1744), one of the important figures of Baroque music in the Czech lands, was tasked with leading the ensemble. He had been employed by the count since age fifteen, in 1711, when he was listed in a register of servants at the Questenberg palace in Vienna mentioned above. He was in charge of musical productions and rehearsing new pieces, including the stage components of theatrical works, in which he also performed as a tenor. He also composed a number of compositions. Probably the most famous of these is the opera L'origine di Faromeritz in Moravia, which was also the first opera to be presented in Czech translation: O puvodu Faromeric na Morave (On the Origin of Faromerice in Moravia). As for the richness of the local musical life, we need not look much further than the fact that between 1722 and 1752, the chateau in Jaromerice nad Rokytnout saw more than 170 dramatic musical performances. In addition to operas and other pieces, there were also occasional works which celebrated significant events in the life of the aristocratic patron and his family.

The congratulatory serenata Operosa terni colossi moles (the Ingenious Construction of the Triple Colossus) is precisely such a work. It was first performed on the 24th of December 1735, intended for the celebration of the name day of Count Johann Adam of Questenberg. The work opens with a three-part sinfonia, which is followed by nineteen vocal numbers (twelve solos, four duos, and three choruses)--quite the extensive composition. It is written for nine soloists and a choir and an instrumental ensemble of strings and basso continuo, occasionally joined by the chalumeaux (no. 14: aria of the Third Siren Decurrunt flumina cuncta in mare) and two baroque trumpets with timpani (final chorus). Another curiosity is the use of solo cello in Policardo's tenor aria In hoc charo nostra solo (no. 8). The Latin libretto was written by Jakub Ignac Zelivsky, probably the chaplain of the church in Jaromef ice from 1734 to 1736. In her preface to the new edition (1) of that serenata, Jana Perutkova claims that a clear inspiration was a similar libretto by Antonin Saletka from the Jesuit Order, from which Zelivsky took entire lines. (2) As one might expect from the period, the text is permeated by a number of symbolic meanings, the chief aim of which traditionally consisted in celebrating the nobleman. Another interesting note of Perutkova's is that the text of the libretto could also be a response to Questenberg's currently somewhat unfavourable position at the Viennese court. The distance grew with his being named the generally unpopular and also financially demanding position of the chief commissioner in the upcoming Moravian provincial assembly. This is a further interpretation of the sadness which the sirens dispel in the serenata, as well as of the moment when "the clouds spread on the sea" (Preface, page IX).

The serenata Operosa temi colossi moles is now newly available in the form of a critical edition prepared by Jana Perutkova (opening commentary), Jana Spacilova (score editing and editorial note), and Jiri K. Kroupa (libretto editing and translation). (3) The main source was the autograph, stored in the archives of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna under the signature III 27714. The edition is meticulously prepared and changes are generally clearly marked in the score and described in the editorial notes (e.g. the notation of a particular type of rhythmic figuration to which it would be useless to allude directly in the score). Compared to recent similar scores (published by Carus Verlag, Breitkopf & Hartel, Academus Edition, Ortus Musikverlag, and others), the size of staff and text are slightly smaller, with thinner lines in the staff. This is also true of ties and legati, which are sometimes difficult to discern, particularly when dotted lines are used (e.g. p. 28, measures 24-25; p. 29, measures 27-38; p. 69, measures 25-28; or p. 86, measure 1). This is the default setting in the Finale notation software--it is difficult to resolve, but not impossible. (4) I also think that the writing out of the parts which are led colla parte with another part in the autograph would be sufficiently explained in the editorial report, saving some characters in the somewhat cluttered score. In insufficient lighting--which we encounter more than occasionally in musical practice--the score might not be perfectly readable. The accompanying texts--in Czech and English--then provide not only information on the editorial revisions, but also detailed information on this work and the circumstances of its performance, a semantic analysis of the libretto and a description of its source. The editorial note is then followed by an edition of the Latin libretto and a translation into Czech. Despite my misgivings about the graphic form of the score, the scholarly import of this edition of the serenata is indubitable, and we can certainly consider the edition a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the musical culture of the Jaromerice court of Count Questenberg, as well as the fascinating oeuvre of Frantisek Antonin Mica, which we are only still beginning to acquaint ourselves with.

by Lukas M. Vytlacil

(1) Franciscus Antonius Mitscha: Operosa terni colossi moles. Eds. Jana Perutkova, Jana Spacilova, and Jin K. Kroupa. KLP--Koniasch Latin Press, Praha 2016.

(2) Jana Perutkova has previously written about this serenata, for example, in her book Frantisek Antonin Mica ve sluzbach hrabete Questenberga a italska opera v Jaromericich. [Frantisek Antonin Mica in the Service of Count Questenberg and Italian Opera in Jaromerice]. KLP--Koniasch Latin Press, Prague 2011, pp. 198-203.

(3) See footnote 1.

(4) We had to deal with the same problem in a critical edition of Reichenauer's Oboe Concerto; Antonin Reichenauer: Concerto in G per oboe, due violini, viola e basso. Fontes Musicae Bohemiae 1. Togga, Prague 2016.
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Title Annotation:history
Author:Vytlacil, Lukas M.
Publication:Czech Music
Geographic Code:4EXCZ
Date:Apr 1, 2019
Words:1103
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