Antonio Vivaldi: La Gloria e Imeneo RV 687

Vivaldi Hardbound

Edited by Alessandro Borin

One-volume set: score, introduction and critical commentary pp. LII, 75 [Italian and English texts]
PR 1431
Piano vocal score available
CP 141380

[Excerpt from the Introduction]

The sole complete musical source of the Serenata RV 687 is the autograph score, preserved in the Bibblioteca Nazionale universitaria di Torino (Foà 27, ff. 62–94). According to Paul Everett, who has examined in detail the source in Turin, it belongs to the category of a so-called ‘composition copy’, which stands half-way between a ‘composition draft’ and a fair copy. The music copied into it was indeed partly (a) taken as it stood from pre-existing sources, undergoing in some instances (b) a process of revision in relation to the original (occurring during or immediately after the physical process of copying from one example to the other), and partly (c) composed expressly for the occasion. A single paper type measuring approximately 316 × 237 mm was employed for the purpose. Each page was pre-ruled with ten staves (probably by the maker or the seller of the paper) by means of a single ‘pass’ of a rastrum with a constant span of 18.95 cm, positioned between vertical guidelines. Some folios display a watermark, made up of three crescent moons measuring 80 mm along the vertical axis of the design, and a countermark in the form of two large letters (“L” and “C”), joined to the base of a trifolium.

The collation of the manuscript proceeds in regular gatherings of four folios obtained by folding twice, and then slitting the horizontal folds of, a single large sheet of ‘royal’ dimensions (the two bifolios obtained in this way were then left nested to form a binio). The sole exceptions are the fourth, seventh and eighth gatherings, which contain respectively five, two and six folios. Nevertheless, even in these cases it is possible to surmise that Vivaldi started by using only binios but subsequently made alterations by adding or removing extra or surplus folios in accordance with changes of mind that occurred before the work assumed its definitive form. The eight gatherings that survive were probably preceded by a further, unnumbered binio containing a title page and an introductory sinfonia, which was later removed from the main body of the manuscript and reused for other purposes.

In addition to In braccio de’ contenti, which is a contrafactumof In braccio a te la calma, taken from Il Giustino, RV 717 (III.10), at least three further movements copied into the score of the Serenata RV 687 in fact appear in the manuscripts of earlier Vivaldi works. These are, respectively, Scherzeran sempre d’intorno—composed in 1721 for the pastoral opera La Silvia, RV 734 (II.03) – and the arias Care pupille and Al seren d’amica calma – both found in the second act of La virtù trionfante dell’amore e dell’odio, ovvero Il Tigrane, RV 740 (II.04 and II.11), staged in Rome in the winter of 1724.

It follows from an examination of the secondary sources that none of the variants can be considered a serious alternative to the reading of the autograph score. Not even the casual errors contained in the latter automatically render authentic the readings of other sources, given that the mistake has come to light precisely because the composer made changes to the original text in the course of transcribing it. Moreover, even though they are ‘infected’ by occasional slips, the copies that Vivaldi made of material found in his earlier works are, generally speaking, more accurate than their respective models. Finally, in the case of the aria transmitted by the manuscript Foà 28 one cannot rule out the possibility that this non-autograph source contains errors or variants introduced accidentally by the copyist. The editor’s correction of perceived errors in the autograph score of RV 687 has therefore been made autonomously without the aid of secondary sources.

In our present state of knowledge, it is not possible to offer any suggestions concerning the authorship of the poetic text. Since no libretto has come down to us, the only source for the literary text is found in the words underlaid to the notes in the autograph score of the serenata.

List of Arias

Gloria, Alle amene, franche arene
Imeneo, Tenero fanciulletto
Gloria, Questo nodo e questo strale
Imeneo, Scherzeran sempre d’intorno
Gloria, Godi pur ch’il caro sposo
Imeneo, Care pupille
Gloria, Al seren d’amica calma
Imeneo, Se ingrata nube
Gloria, Ognor colmi d’estrema dolcezza