Fondazione Mercadante

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Fondazione

Mercadante Foundation is a cultural institution established by Romana Mercadante, the relative of the Italian musician and composer Saverio Mercadante (1795-1870), to retrieve and spread the knowledge of his artistic heritage and to promote a more refined consciousness of music and Italian culture throughout the world. Mercadante Foundation aims to develop cultural activities based on music, opera, concertos, choruses, to produce and stage even unreleased theatrical performances and to organize festivals, seasons, readings, exhibitions and artistical performances. Special attention is paid to refresher courses for musicians and to producing and promoting Italian music through cultural exchange initiatives with both nationally and internationally qualified institutions. By collaborating with other organizations, associations and schools involved in artistic fields, which all foster social aggregation and leisure-time activities, Mercadante Foundation is seeking to become a welcoming and flexible meeting point and a pole of attraction for cultural and musical interests, in the hope of contributing to the social function of both personal and civic growth.

Saverio Mercadante

1795-1870

Born from the noble Giuseppe Orazio Mercadante of Altamura in the Bari province, southern Italy, baptised Giuseppe Saverio Raffaele Mercadante was an Italian composer, particularly of operas and of instrumental, sacred and chamber music. Mercadante composed impressive number of works and his development of operatic structures, melodic styles and orchestration significantly contributed to the foundations upon which Giuseppe Verdi built his dramatic technique. Mercadante has shown his talent for music since a very young age, when he studied flute, violin and composition at the Conservatory in Naples. The opera composer Gioachino Rossini said to Niccolo Zingarelli, the Conservatory Director "My compliments Maestro – your young pupil Mercadante begins where we finish". In 1817 at the age of 22 Mercadante was made conductor of the College orchestra, where he composed a huge number of symphonies, and concertos for various instruments – including six for flute in about 1818–1819, and whose autograph scores are held in the Naples Conservatory archives, where they were presumably first performed with him as a soloist. The encouragement of Rossini led him to compose for the opera, where he gained considerable success with his second work Violenza e Constanza, in 1820. His first public opera, Elisa e Claudio,1821 was a huge success at La Scala of Milan and brought about interest from an international audience.
He worked for a time in Vienna, in Madrid, in Cadiz, and in Lisbon, and reestablished himself in Italy in 1831. Invited by Rossini to join him in Paris in 1836, he composed there I Briganti for four of the most-known singers of that time, Giulia Grisi, Giovanni Battista Rubini, Antonio Tamburini and Luigi Lablache, who all worked closely with Bellini. While there, he had the chance to hear operas by Meyerbeer and Halévy, which imparted a strong influence on him, especially the La Juive, composed by the latter. This influence took the form of greater emphasis on the dramatic side. When Mercadante returned to Italy after directing important theatres in Spain and Portugal, his style began to shift with the presentation of I Normanni a Parigi at the Teatro Regio in Turin in 1832. With this play Mercadante entered on the process of development in his musical dramaturgy which, to some extent, presaged Verdi, and launched him into the so-called "reform opera" movement, of which Mercadante was part, it arose from the publication of the manifesto by Giuseppe Mazzini which he wrote in 1836 "Filosofia della musica". Since 1831 he has composed some of his most important works including "Il giuramento" whose first play was performed at La Scala Theatre in Milan in November 1837. This opera was innovative in that it was the first successful attempt in an Italian opera that saw the "prima donna" of her until-then inalienable right of having the stage to herself. Introducing the antagonist figure represented by the contralto as well as the setting of the vocal standardization of all the other characters, it was the main innovation by Mercadante. By doing this, Mercadante sounded what the future of bel canto was to be. While composing Elena da Feltre , Mercadante wrote out his ideas about how opera should be structured: "I have continued the revolution I began in Il giuramento: varied forms, cabalettas banished, crescendos out, vocal lines simplified, fewer repeats, more originality in the cadances, proper regard paid to the drama, orchestration rich but not so as to swamp the voices, no long solos in the ensembles (they only force the other parts to stand idle to the detriment of the action), not much bass drum, and a lot less brass band." A harmonic reconstruction work subtlety and originally orchestrated, which explains the many quoted comparisons between Mercadante and Verdi and has the overall coherence one looks for and finds in middle and late Verdi (a surprising anticipation, for Elena da Feltre dates from 1838, the year before Verdi's first opera). These stylistic innovations put him in the forefront of the Italian composers of his time and of all times.
This is is taken from a summary by Gian Luca Petrucci written on the occasion of the concert held on March 16th, 2010 in Rome, at Santa Maria in Aquiro. The concert was organized by Mercadante Foundation to deliver a first for pieces of music by the great master from Altamura. In it, performances by soprano Min Ji Kim and the Orchestra "I Flauti di Toscani" (Director: Paolo Totti; viola: Carolina Leon Paez; violin: Giovanni Michele De Rossi; flute: Ginevra Petrucci; cello: Francesco Parente) were shown
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