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(Franz) Joseph Haydn

(Franz) Joseph Haydn Composer

Philemon und Baucis, Hob.XXIXa:1,1a; Hob.XXIXb:2 (singspiel; mostly lost)

Performances: 3
Tracks: 51
  • Philemon und Baucis, Hob.XXIXa:1,1a; Hob.XXIXb:2 (singspiel; mostly lost)
    Genre: Opera
    Pr. Instrument: Voice
The original version of this Singspiel (i.e., an operatic entertainment in German with spoken dialogue rather than recitiatives) was written for a marionette theater under the title Philemon und Baucis oder Jupiters Reise auf die Erde (Hob. XXIXa:1). The occasion was the September 1773 visit to Esterhaza of Empress Maria Theresa and a retinue of important and high-born persons. The opera was revised in its final form as a drama for human actors in 1776; during that revision Haydn added a final section praising the imperial Hapsburg family. The opera is for four principal singers, two speaking roles, chorus, and an orchestra of pairs of flute, oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets and timpani, with strings. The libretto is by C. G. Pfeffel.

The plot involves one of Jupiter's amours on Earth. Haydn's music is delightful (including the orchestral interludes, which just might have been composed by one or another of his pupils). It is, in fact, a tribute to Haydn that the work proves popular even though the dialogue is fatuous in the extreme and despite the fact that such pastoral romances strike modern audiences as dull. Particularly notable in light of the later oratorio "The Seasons" is the exceptional opening "Thunderstorm" chorus. One of Philemon's solos, "ein Tag, der allen Freude bringt," is the finest number in the score and has gained some popularity as an individual concert number. But almost all of the score is exceptionally beautiful, filled with nice bits of tone-painting (note the accompaniment of "Wenn am weiten Firmamente," with a dreamy oboe solo, muted second violins, and the rest of the strings pizzicato).

© Joseph Stevenson, All Music Guide
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