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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Baldassare Galuppi - La caduta di Adamo (1987)

Liner notes:

The oratorio entitled Adamo, to an Italian text by Granelli, had it first performance in Rome in 1747. It was Galuppi's sixth oratorio; the five preceding ones belonged to an earlier phase in Galuppi's career which had started in 1740 with Sancta Maria Magdalena (to a Latin text, like most of Galuppi's oratorios), followed by Prudens Abigail, to a Latin text by Pasquali and performed in Bologna in 1743, then by Isaac and Judith, both performed in Bologna, respectively in 1745 and 1746. After Adamo (or The Fall of Adam), Galuppi had two oratorios produced in Venice, one in Florence, another in Rome and, well into old age, brought this lengthy series to a close with one in Venice. He showed a preference for texts in Latin generally provided by his friend, the Abbot Chiari.

Galuppi was born on 18 October 1706 in Burano, on the outskirts of Venice, and was thus nicknamed «il Buranello». He studied under Lotti, who taught him harpsichord and composition, and when his first work La fede nell'inconstanza ossia, Gli amici rivali met with failure, he reacted very intelligently by resuming his studies in order to perfect his craft.

In 1740 he became choir master at the Ospedale dei Mendicanti (Beggars' Hospital) in Venice, having already made his mark as a harpsichordist (as he had also done in Florence - a truly interesting body of sonatas testifies to this). In 1741 he travelled to London to take up operatic duties at the Haymarket Theatre for a few months, but later returned to Venice. In 1748 he was appointed deputy director of music at St. Mark's, then in 1762 full director and also choirmaster at the Ospedale degli Incurabili (Incurables' Hospital). He spent the years from 1765 to 1768 in Russia, at St. Petersburg. Returning to Venice, he worked at St. Mark's once again, and at the Incurabili where his appointment had been kept open for him, his chief duties being to compose oratorios. His last work in this genre was II ritorno di Tobia to a text by Carlo Gozzi in 1782. Galuppi died in Venice in 1785.

Galuppi, admittedly, is not one of the figureheads of Italian oratorio (mainly owing to the lack of a major study on him). After Carissimi, the development of this musical genre ran from Stradella through to its consolidation by Alessandro Scarlatti, oscillating between Papal Rome and Naples, Florence (incidentally all cities where Galuppi's oratorios were performed) and Venice, where oratorios were given in either Italian or Latin. The former alternative was that chosen by specific churches, in accordance with the tradition of St. Philip of Neri; the latter by the churches of the various hospitals (Incurabili, Mendicanti, Derelitti, Pieta). In these hospitals, oratorios were sung in Latin, obeyed a two-part form and were set to subjects drawn in the main from the Holy Scriptures. All the parts were filled by women, by the girls cared for by the Hospitals (as can be seen from various manuscripts bearing the names of the singers - Annamaria, Elisabetta, Mariettina, etc.). This was the very opposite of the Roman custom, where all the parts were sung by male voices, and shows to what extent the XVIIIth century ear was attached to musical substance, regardless of the male or female attribution of the parts. 

Baldassare Galuppi, along with Francesco Bertoni, Francesco Gasparini, Giacomo Perti, Vivaldi, Lotti, Bonaventura Furlanetto and others, ranks among the most prolific composers of oratorios in the XVIIIth century. There were few oratorios to Italian texts and almost all of these were performed outside Venice. S. Maurizio e compagni martini was first performed in Bologna in 1743, Adamo in Rome in 1747, Il' Jepte o sia Il trionfo della religione in Florence in 1749, Gerusalemme convertita (to a text by Apostolo Zeno), in Rome in 1752, Il ritorno di Tobia in Venice in 1782. This last oratorio was not composed for a Hospital but had been commissioned by Lodovico Manin (later Doge) for the hall in the Incurabili, closed down for bankruptcy. Galuppi had already stopped composing oratorios to Latin texts six years earlier, precisely because of this closure. By this time, the tradition had passed into the hands of younger man such as Francesco Bertoni and Bonaventura Furlanetto. Galuppi also composed an oratorio in Latin on the subject of Adam, entitled Adam, to a text by Abbot Chiari drawn from Klopstock (Venice, 1771).

Oratorios were performed instead of opera everywhere during Lent. Venice's various conservatories were keen to put them on as this gave their students an opportunity to perform in public and it was for these conservatories that composers like Ariosti, Lotti, Marcello and Hasse wrote.

As can be seen from Galuppi's life, there is an obvious link between Venice's conservatory-cum-hospitals and the history of the oratorio. Galuppi started composing oratories in 1740, the year he was taken on at the Mendicanti, and it is easy to detect Vivaldi's influence both in the vocal parts and in the instrumental parts, with love of colourful, varied writing, the strings often enriched with wind instruments, and, in the case of Adamo, by two horns. It is thus hardly surprising to come across the following statement, written on 24 August 1750, in the Hospital's archives:

«Maestro Galuppi draws the attention of the congregation to two young sisters, Maria Elisabetta and Maria Girolama, aged 14 and 12 who play the «tromba di caccia» or hunting horn. Their father, Lorenzo Rossoni and one of their relatives, Giuseppe Pisoni, «who rank among the best teachers of this instrument», are to teach the two young girls daily, free of charge, until they are able to play any piece at sight. The congregation is invited to listen to the two players and to decide whether they should be admitted into the choir on the grounds of «the prestige brought to performances (...) and the present novelty value of the horn». The two girls would also have to play the other «ordinary» instruments. The vote was eleven «ayes», two «noes» and one «non sincero», the abstention of the period. A five-sixths majority was required, but owing to the
«particular circumstances», the «ayes» hat it.

Carlo BOLOGNA (translated by Elizabeth Carroll)

La caduta di Adamo

This oratorio, in Italian, is divided into two parts, with four voices for the following four characters: Adam, Eve, the Angel of Justice, and the Angel of Mercy. As was customary, the orchestra consists of strings and a harpsichord (or organ, or both instruments together), not to mention the use of two horns on five occasions, including the closing chorus. The use of these two instruments is perfectly suited to the requirements of the text. The various pieces are allotted strictly in accordance with the musical (and theatrical) customs of the day. Each voice is given three arias, Adam and Eve have a duet and a duettino, the two angels also have a duet and a final chorus involves all four voices.

Translated by Elizabeth Carroll

  • EVA/Eve: Mara ZAMPIERI
  • ADAM/Adamo: Ernesto PALACIO
  • ANGE DE MISERICORDE/Angel of Mercy/Der Engel der Barmherizigkeit: Susanna RIGACCI
  • ANGE DE JUSTICE/Angel of Justice/Der Engel der Gerechtigkeit: Marilyn SCHMIEGE
  • I SOLISTI VENETI: Direction/Conductor/Dirigent : Claudio SCIMONE
For track listings and full libretto, see the booklet scans contained with the mp3 files.

Download links: Enjoy the music, or here. (pswd:
Used copies of this recording are available at

Other recordings of music by Baldassare Galuppi: