The Olimpie

In 1815 Spontini started working on Olimpie, the libretto of which, based on Voltarire’ tragedy, had been written by Dielafoi and Brifaut. The composer was really close to this new opera: staged on December 22nd, 1819, at the Royal Academy of Music’s Theatre, with again the soprano Branchu in the main role, the opera was suspended for the murder of the Duke of Berry (1820), nephew of Louis XVIII. Spontini took advantage of this interruption to revise the opera and eliminate what the public had less appreciated: the double catastrophe. The Olimpie, with happy end, was dedicated to Frederick William III of Prussia and appeared in May 1821 on the stages of Berlin, where Spontini had moved, receiving a great success. The Olimpie, the third Spontini’s epic opera, is structured on a sequence of stately key-scenes with processions, bacchanals and battles, where Spontini musically sketches situations of extreme emotional and gestural concentration. Since the initial ouverture, the sense of beauty, grandeur, expressive cordiality and immediateness, already noticed in the two previous heroic ouvertures of “La Vestale” and “Cortez”, can be felt. Among the characters, Statira’s personality is very fascinating: worthy heroin of Alexander Magno, strong as Cherubini’s Medea or Gluck’s Armida. The same must be underlined for Olimpia, graceful and transparent figure, symbol of love.

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William Shakespeare