The work is an extraordinary curiosity; a child of the heady days just before the French Revolution, Tarare is the famous French writer's only opera and one of the Italian composer's rare French scores. First and most strikingly a work of social and political commentary, Tarare is also an entertaining work of theatre. Salieri's music supports these aims admirably and offers a few memorable moments of its own. As an opera form, Tarare defies easy categorization; it may be best described as a comedic satire dressed in the clothes of a sprawling 5 act lyric tragedy, complete with Prologue and a grand divertissement with dance.
Antonio Salieri set Shakespeare’s comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor to music in 1799, and his work was successfully premiered in Vienna the same year. Michael Hampe staged Salieris’s Falstaff at the Schwetzingen SWR Festival in 1995 with similar success – wonderfully supported by the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Arnold Östman. The libretto by Carlo Prospero Defranceschi reduces Shakespeare’s original play to a few main characters and drastically simplifies the plot. This gives John Del Carlo, Teresa Ringholz, Richard Croft and Delores Ziegler a lot of space for their artistic interpretation and brilliant singing. The work lives from the wealth of the Italian opera buffa and absorbed influences from the German Singspiel (song-play), and delights with a number of great arias.
A cheerful little record, this, of three lightweight works played most exquisitely by very distinguished artists. In fact I am not sure that the chief distinction doesn't emanate from the orchestra: it is a while, as it happens, since I have heard the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and they seem to be playing here better than ever—sweet string tone, pure intonation, finely moulded phrasing, impeccably precise ensemble. Of the three works, the Cimarosa, written for two flutes (in which form it has several times been recorded), is the most attractive for its fluency, its melodiousness (the finale is a real charmer) and its elegant musical form; the Salieri seems by comparison rather carefully devised, though of course it has plenty of entertaining music. Carl Stamitz's piece takes itself more seriously, trying to be symphonic and taking less trouble about being tuneful—though the warm, galant slow movement makes very pleasing listening. The recorded sound is clear and true. (Stanley Sadie, Gramophone)
By far the best opera based on Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor, is Verdi's Falstaff. But the lazy, cowardly, greedy, overweight, alcohol-soaked, sexually predatory, and somehow (despite everything) endearing antihero is big enough for more than one opera. Salieri's Falstaff is much simpler and smaller in scale than Verdi's, less inventive and energetic. But this is a sophisticated, funny, brightly performed treatment of Falstaff's attempt to woo two married women with identical love notes.(Joe McLellan)
Diana Damrau first made her mark as a sensational Queen of the Night – a part she has just relinquished – and has garnered rave reviews in roles such as Konstanze, Zerbinetta and Rossini’s Rosina. One or two other coloratura sopranos today can match her diamantine brilliance and agility, but few, if any, command such fullness in the middle and lower ranges.
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.