Antonio Vivaldi: La Dorilla RV 709

Vivaldi Hardbound

Edited by Ivano Bettin

Two-volume set: score pp. XXII, 259 / Introduction and critical commentary pp. 124 [Italian and English texts]
PR 1454
Piano vocal score available
CP 141956

[Excerpt from the Introduction]

To establish the literary and musical texts of La Dorilla, RV 709 (Venice, 1734), the Edition has had recourse to Vivaldi’s partly autograph score (A) preserved in the Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria di Torino (Foà 39) and the libretto of the production in 1734 (L), from which have been taken the punctuation and scene directions lacking or incomplete in the musical source.

A – Manuscript in oblong format (maximum dimensions approximately 228 × 315 mm) comprising 295 folios with modern foliation in the top right-hand corner of each recto side. The score of La Dorilla occupies ff. 142–295 and is preceded by that of L’Olimpiade, RV 725, on ff. 1–140. When the two operas were bound together, a separating folio (f. 141) serving as a title page was inserted. This reads:

La Dorilla | Atti tré, con Sinfonia, e Cori cantono [sic], e ballano | Musica di D. Ant.o Vivaldi | cantata nel Teatro di S. Angelo in Inverno 1734.

Below, in the centre of the page, there is a round library stamp inscribed around its perimeter with the words “Biblioteca Nazionale di Torino”. At the top of the first page of music (f. 142r), in the centre, Vivaldi has written the title, “La Dorilla”; to its left, we once again find the library stamp.

Various characteristics of the score preserved in Foà 39 suggest that Vivaldi played a decidedly active role in the process of ‘restyling’ that the opera underwent after its premiere in 1726 and conjure up an image of the composer sitting beside the librettist or arranger to decide on cuts and discuss which arias it would be most opportune to replace. In all probability Vivaldi took apart the manuscript prepared for the performance in 1726 (it was his custom to stockpile scores of his operas once the season of their performance had concluded), made changes – generally through shortening – to some recitatives and replaced various arias with others by composers stylistically close to him and very fashionable at the time, and for which he had been able to procure a copy of the score. This hypothesis is supported by the alternation of autograph pages with others written by copyists, the irregular collation and in some instances duplicated numbering of the gatherings, the numerous void pages between sections, the cadences of some recitatives that have been deleted and then rewritten in a key suitable for the next aria in cases where a replacement has been made, and various directions indicating closed numbers present in the 1726 version but deleted from it in that of 1734 with numerous pen strokes.

L – Libretto printed in Venice by Giuseppe Bettinelli on the occasion of the production of La Dorilla at the Teatro Sant’Angelo in the carnival season of 1734. The preliminary pages contain no dedication and mention neither the name of the composer nor that of the author of the poetic text. At the end of the libretto (p. 45) there is an advertisement by the printer regarding the publication of the first three volumes of Metastasio’s Opere drammatiche. The example used for the Edition is held by the Biblioteca di Studi Teatrali di Casa Goldoni, Venice (shelfmark 59 A 126/7).

A Comment on the Choices Made by the Editor

The recitatives in the manuscript score of La Dorilla are characterized by the sporadic presence of a few stemless notes placed close to the actual notes, especially in passages for Dorilla herself but also, albeit less commonly, in ones for Filindo, Admeto, Nomio and Eudamia. This practice is seen also in the score of L’Olimpiade, where it is confined to the part for Aminta. In La Dorilla the changes generally serve to lower the melodic line when it goes into a high region or to make the attack of the note or the melodic contour itself more comfortable for the singer. It is possible that Vivaldi thought it useful to make a note of such variants, which were probably occasioned by his collaboration with the singers. The Edition places such notes on a supplementary staff added above the main one.

In the parts for Dorilla, Nomio and Eudamia one encounters a use of clefs that varies as regards the recitatives and arias written for the same character. In detail, Dorilla’s recitatives are notated in the soprano clef despite the fact that the singer who took the part in 1734, Anna Caterina della Parte, was a contralto, whereas the arias, with the exception of Il povero mio core, which is notated in the soprano clef, use the alto clef; the recitatives for Nomio are in the soprano clef, and his arias in the alto clef (the singer “da uomo” was the soprano Angela Zanucchi); finally, the recitatives for Eudamia are in the soprano clef, and her arias in the alto clef (the singer, Marta Arrigoni, was a contralto). Similar inconsistencies can be found in the score of L’Olimpiade, which opened on 17 February 1734 of the same season, less than a month after La Dorilla and with the same cast, where the parts sung by Argene (a role taken by the alto Arrigoni) are notated in the soprano clef. However, the fact that, leaving aside the choice of clef, the vocal compass of these singers remains largely unchanged (coinciding approximately with that of a modern mezzo-soprano) makes it reasonable to suppose that the employment of more than one clef for the music sung by a single role occurred solely for reasons of economy and convenience of musical copying.

Seeing that in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century sources there is no codified way of writing triplet groups and that Vivaldi’s manuscript consists of folios written out by various hands with different scribal habits, which makes it hard to gauge whether a slur is meant to indicate legato performance in addition to triplet grouping, the editor has chosen to retain the original notation, preserving and extending in a systematic way the slurs placed variously above and below the numeral “3”.

In the finale of the second act the score contains a reference that is not accompanied by a fully written out musical text. This happens with the instruction “Qui si fà la Caccia” (Here the hunt takes place), placed on f. 256v after the chorus Alla caccia ognuno presti, where we do not find the music of the characteristic instrumental piece but instead the chorus Viva Nomio e ’l suo valor (II.12). Following this chorus, the act closes with an invitation to the dance, if we can believe what we read in the libretto (but not in A): “Segue Ballo de’ Cacciatori”.

Regarding “la Caccia”, different hypotheses can be advanced. Vivaldi perhaps reckoned with the insertion of an ad libitum fanfare played by the hornists, either in the orchestra or on stage; or with a set piece from the choreographer; or even with the spontaneous performance of a repertory piece well known to the performers, hence also to the audience; or perhaps he envisaged a repetition by instruments alone of, for instance, the opening chorus of scene 9. What is undeniable, however, is that the possibility that Vivaldi took advantage of the success enjoyed by Op. 8 also on this occasion is not a remote hypothesis when one considers the musical material on offer in the first and third movements of the concerto L’autunno, RV 293, or in the concerto actually entitled La caccia, RV 362, the tenth in the collection published in 1725 by Le Cène.

For the final ballet of the huntsmen, on the other hand, it is possible to think of repeating the “Sinfonia al Ballo” that follows the opening of this very scene. Moreover, the ballet of the shepherds that concludes the first act is formed in a similar way.

List of Arias

Act I
Coro, Senti quell’usignuolo
Coro, Ride il colle e ride il prato
Elmiro, Mi lusinga il dolce affetto
Dorilla, La speranza ch’in me sento
Admeto, Dall’orrido soggiorno
Nomio, Se al mio ben rivolgo il ciglio
Elmiro, Saprò ben con petto forte
Eudamia, Al mio amore il tuo risponda
Filindo, Rete, lacci e strali adopra
Coro, Ogni cuor grato si mostri

Act II
Dorilla, Come l’onde in mezzo al mare
Elmiro, Vorrei dai lacci sciogliere
Admeto, Se ostinata a me resisti
Dorilla, Se amarti non poss’io
Nomio, Bel piacer saria d’un core
Eudamia, Arsa da rai cocenti
Filindo, Non vo’ che un infedele

Filindo, Col piacer del tuo commando
Dorilla, Il povero mio core
Eudamia, Più non vo’ mirar quel volto
Elmiro, Non ha più pace il cor amante