I Capuleti e i Montecchi is considered by many Bellini’s first masterpiece. It certainly recalls in many ways the great belcanto era, particularly in the way the roles are organized: the mezzo-soprano as male protagonist, the soprano as his lover, the tenor as the hero’s rival, bass and bariton respectively as the noble father and the tyrant. However, Capuleti is not strictly a belcanto opera because of its intimate and at times dramatic atmosphere. So much so that the many embellishments, counterbalanced by a well-defined melodic core, are not ornamentation anymore but start to take an expressive connotation.
In Stendhal’s opinion Tancredi was Rossini’s best opera. In his biography he wrote: “there’s no bravery or grandeur in this opera but only the simple purity and virginity of genius”. The libretto by Gaetano Rossi was drawn from Voltaire’s tragedy Tancrede. For that libretto Rossini composed an innovative score, combining in an original way the baroque “extreme coloraturas” with the pre-Romantic simple melodies of the new belcanto.
Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci is a opera of tremendous energy and impetus, up to the final scene, one of the most gripping of Italian opera. The aria”Vesti la giubba” “put on your costume” is one of the best-renowned tenor arias of the whole repertoire. It is in fact both an expressive and a vocal test for any lyric tenor.
Frederick II was one of the most fascinating figure in medieval history. His power was immense: King of Sicily and Jerusalem, Emperor of the Romans, King of Italy and Germany. His kingdom extended from the northern sea to Sicily and, on the east, to Israel and Lebanon.