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Based upon the story of Pyramus and Thisbe from Ovid's Metamorphoses with a libretto by Marco Coltellini, Piramo e Tisbe is by Johann Adolf Hasse, a pivotal opera composer of the 18th Century celebrated for his sweet and tender melodies. Sung in Italian with English supertitles.

 

A wall and family feud stand between Pyramus and Thisbe. Their secret plans to unite unravel under the moonlight.

Johann Adolf Hasse (1699-1783) was born near Hamburg, and began his career as a singer in that city. In 1721 he left for Italy where his training and career as a composer developed and flourished. An early success was his serenata Antonio e Cleopatra presented in Naples and featuring the then new singer Farinelli. Soon after, the opera Artaserse to a libretto by Metastasio was presented in Venice during Carnival of 1725 and helped secure his fame. The opera’s celebrated arias performed by Farinelli were hit tunes of their day and furthered Hasse’s fame throughout Europe. Other operas and success followed for Hasse and he played a pivotal part in the development of opera seria and 18th-century sacred music.  Notable for his close friendship and collaboration with the influential Italian poet and librettist Metastasio along with his marriage to the highly regarded soprano Faustina Bordoni, Hasse entered into the Saxon Royal service as court kapellmeister in 1733 (one of the best-paid positions of the time), launching a nearly 30-year long stretch of prolific activity that propelled Dresden Opera to its peak of popularity. Highlights from his many operas composed between 1730-1771 include Didone abbandonata, Cleofide, Siroe, La Clemenza di Tito, all to librettos by Metastasio. Among Hasse’s many sacred cantatas, I pellegrini al sepolcro di Nostre Signore from 1742 was popular throughout German and Italian lands. A victim of changing aesthetics of the period, Hasse’s career also was altered by the Seven Years War in Europe (1756-1763) with the dissolution of the court in Dresden. In 1768 he composed the intermezzo tragico Piramo e Tisbe, to a libretto by Marco Coltellini for a performance in an unidentified country estate outside of Vienna. He revised his opera in 1770 for performance in the city at the Laxenburg Palace Theater. Johann Adolf Hasse spent his last years in Venice with his wife, where he died in 1782. His grave was unmarked until 1820.

Marco Coltellini (1724-1777) was born in Montepulciano and died in St. Petersburg. Active throughout the 18th century in the world of Opera, Coltellini wrote librettos for Traetta, Gluck, Salieri, and Mozart among others. At the premiere of Hasse’s Piramo e Tisbe, the multi-talented librettist sang the role of “Il Padre.” In 1775 Coltellini created a revised version of the libretto for London with music by Venanzio Rauzzini. Coltellini had based his libretto on one of the most popular tales from Ovid [43 BCE – 17 CE]. Pyramus and Thisbe appear in Book IV of Ovid’s narrative poem Metamorphoses which was widely translated, read, and adapted in Europe by writers and students of Latin. Chaucer, Dante, Boccaccio, and Shakespeare are just a few of the authors who have referenced the original star -crossed lovers from ancient Babylon.