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Caldera and Handel this week on The Lyric Stage

On October 27 at 8 PM contemporaries Antonio Caldera and George Frederic Handel share The Lyric Stage. First a one act from 1734 by Caldara, Il giuoco del Quadriglio, The Card Game, followed by one of Caldara's solo cantatas and then three Handel arias with Rolando Villazon. 

Antonio Caldara was Venetian, born there in 1670. Not widely known today, he was well regarded during his lifetime, holding his own with the public in competition with such as J.S. Bach and Handel. He had a happy and productive twenty years at the end of his life as the court composer at the Vienese court of the Hapsburg Charles VI, where he wrote The Card Game to celebrate the birthday of the Empress in 1734. Il giuoco del Quadriglio, starred the young archduchess Maria Theresa, and Caldara's own wife.

Caldara scored it for three soprano's and one contralto. Beyond Camilla's ironic assertion  that "cards are the mirror of human worth, that card playing reveals the real man", and references to what Kings and Queens do and such, not a lot happens. The women banter as they play their good hands and bad. The game ends with a happy dance.  

In the early 18th C. Pope Clement XI (1700-1721) banned opera owing to its alleged fostering of lewd and lascivious behavior in Italian society. As a way around this ban, Caldara and others wrote oratorios and cantatas that musically could pass for operas - they just were not staged. Julienne Baird is featured in one of these, a solo cantata Caldara wrote Lungi dal idol mio, Far from my beloved, a lover's lament that the singer will never see her beloved again.     

Our program rounds out this week with three Handel arias sung by tenor Rolando Villazon.     


Mike Harrah is host of The Lyric Stage, which airs Sundays at 8 pm.