Il Più bel nome

Antonio Caldara (1671 - 1736)

A signal moment in the arrival of Italian music on Spanish soil came in the summer of 1708 when Antonio Caldara, finding his opportunities for providing dramatic works for the opera-loving Duke of Mantua limited by the War of the Spanish Succession, headed off to Barcelona to take on a commission for putting on an operatic work from Archduke Charles (Carlos III), who was preparing his own wedding festivities at the court he had established in order to contend for the Spanish throne. For three centuries this serenata, Il più bel nome has (like much of the hugely successful theatre music of its time written by this Baroque composer from Venice) been passed over thereby presenting Emilio Moreno and El Concierto Español with a superb opportunity to gather together an outstanding quintet of soloists to lead this paean of praise to St Elisabeth and, by extension, to Archduke Charles’ future wife, Princess Elisabeth Christine of Wolfenbüttel. With appropriate period stylishness, María Espada, Robin Blaze, Raquel Andueza, Marianne Beate Kielland and Agustín Prunell-Friend conjure up, in this mythological allegory to a libretto penned by a leading contributor for the stage, Pietro Pariati, the splendour of early 18th century courtly musical culture and, in many ways, the seeds for the enduring operatic passion of Barcelona directed with equal elegance by Moreno and arising out of a recent concert performance given in Lérida, nearby Barcelona in Catalonia.

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