Antonio Vivaldi: Serenata a 3 RV 690

Vivaldi Hardbound

Edited by Alessandro Borin

One-volume set: score, introduction and critical commentary pp. LVI, 167 [Italian and English texts]
PR 1402
Piano vocal score available
CP 141152

[Excerpt from the Introduction]

The Serenata a 3, RV 690, is the least familiar and in certain respects the most enigmatic of the Vivaldi serenatas that have come down to us. The sole surviving source is the autograph manuscript of the score, preserved at the Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria of Turin (Foà 27, ff. 95145), the title page of which reads simply:

Serenata à 3 | 2 Canti, e Tenore | con Istrom[en]ti, Corni dà Caccia, et Oboè | e Fagotto [added subsequently] | Del Vivaldi | Pour Monsieur le Mar[quis] du Toureil | Personaggi Eurilla, Nice, et Alcindo Pastori

On the basis of this meagre information Michael Talbot managed to identify the subject of the work and to suggest a key to the interpretation of its unusual plot, which transports to an allegorical plane the story of the French Jansenist Jean de Tourreil, who was arrested in Italy on the orders of the Holy Office and imprisoned in the Castel Sant’Angelo. The serenata should therefore be regarded as a kind of cautionary tale conceived against the background of the great doctrinal disputes that arose in the wake of the spread of Jansenist ideas during the pontificate of Clement XI and almost certainly created at the behest of circles close to the Holy Office or directly implicated in the affaire Tourreil.

Many of the questions surrounding the origin and commissioning of Vivaldi’s score nevertheless remain unresolved. When and where was the serenata composed? Which patron hosted it? On what occasion did it receive its premiere? To these and other questions a reply will be attempted in the pages that follow, working forward from the presumption that the literary text of this kind of composition by its very nature operates on more than one level of significance

At first sight, the serenata relates the story of an unrequited love: advised by her confidante Nice, the nymph Eurilla tries in vain to win the heart of the attractive shepherd Alcindo. He first offers her his veneration, before agreeing to feign love for her, though without giving up his personal freedom. Exasperated by Alcindo’s elusive behaviour, Eurilla finally reveals her true intentions and admits to having in her turn made a pretence of love only in order to punish his pride. In the final chorus she accordingly calls on the nymphs and shepherds to accost him and put him to death.

List of Arias

Part One
Eurilla, Mio cor, povero cor!
Eurilla, Con i vezzi lusinghieri
Nice, Digli che miri almeno
Alcindo, Mi sento in petto
Eurilla, Se all’estivo ardor cocente
Eurilla, No, che non e vilta
Alcindo, Nel suo carcere ristretto
Eurilla, Alla caccia d’un core spietato
Nice, Ad infiammar quel seno

Part Two
Alcindo, Acque placide che correte
Nice, Come l’erba in vago prato
Alcindo, Dell’alma superba
Eurilla, La dolce auretta
Alcindo, L’altero bianco giglio
Nice, Di Cocito nell’orrido regno
Eurilla, Vorresti lusingarmi