In its day La scuola de’ gelosi (1778) was one of the best-known comic operas by Antonio Salieri (1750–1825), remaining a box-office hit for decades. All the more astonishing is the fact that it could sink into obscurity. Even Goethe was excited by this masterpiece: “The opera is the audience’s favourite, and the audience is right. It contains an astonishing richness and variety, and the subject is treated with the most exquisite taste. I was moved by every aria.” In the wake of its world premiere in Venice in 1778, La scuola de’ gelosi was performed in opera houses all over Europe, from Dresden, Vienna, Prague and Paris to cities as far away as London and St Petersburg, before it passed into near-oblivion.
When this opera's oratorio was rediscovered in 1928, it was first believed to be composed by Mozart. But in fact it was a piece of the last opera of the Prague composer Josef Myslivecek (1731-1781), with whom Mozart had friendly relations and who indeed was inspired by Myslivecek’s work. This world premiere recording of the opera “Medonte” by the ensemble l’arte del mondo shows imposingly the exceptional skills of this wrongly neglected composer. Recorded live at the Bayer Kulturhaus, Leverkusen.
The opera is starring countertenor Valer Sabadus - one of opera's most exciting newcomers - now exclusively signed to Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, a division of Sony Classical. Christoph Willibald Gluck, widely known for fundamentally reforming the 'opera seria' wrote some of the greatest and exemplary masterpieces of this great genre before he started his famous reform of the opera. This makes this work a fascinating and enlightening piece in the puzzle for the evolution of opera and the eminent character Gluck. Gluck's setting of La Clemenza was first performed in Naples in 1752, ten years before his first reform opera.
The Passion according to St John as recorded here is a rather simple work. The Passions written by Italian composers are in no way comparable to the Passions which were written in Germany. This was the direct result of the reforms of the Council of Trent (1545-1563) which ordered settings of the Passion story to be simple, using only the text of the Gospels without any free poetic addition. So this Passion isn't much different from the Passions written in the renaissance. It is also part of a tradition in Naples, performing the St John Passion on Good Friday. The best-known example is Alessandro Scarlatti's St John Passion, written about 100 years earlier.