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 The birth of Greek ottocento opera

Konstantinos Kardamis

Donizetti Society Newsletter 99, October 2006 carried an article on the birth of Greek opera in the 19th century with a particular focus on the  theatre of San Giacomo, see here. This was the main theatre in Corfu and later became its Town Hall, only to be destroyed in the Second World War. This is a short summary with photographs.  A much fuller version that was given by Konstantinos Kardamis at the XI Convegno Annuale di Società Italiana di Musicologia Lecce, 22–24 October 2004, can be found here .


San Giacomo photo


The Greek contribution to 19th century opera is starting to be fully documented and, hopefully, to be performed, as with the recent production of Carrer's Marathon Salamis, see here.  A recording of Samaras's Rhea (reviewed in Newsletter 98) is available from here.

Of particular importance in this history is Nikolaos Halikiopoulos Mantzaros (Niccolo Calichiopulo Manzaro) who was born in Corfù on October 26, 1795 and died there on April 12, 1872 and is credited as the founder of the Greek ottocento school. He was a lifelong friend of Zingarelli, Bellini's teacher.  Although offered various musical posts in Italy, he preferred to remain in Corfu teaching and helping to found the first Greek conservatory, the Società Filarmonica di Corfù.


Photo of Mantzaros


HMRL (Hellenic Music Research Lab), part of the Ionian University of Corfù, have issued a CD of early works (1815-1827) by Mantzaros.  HMRL are also hoping to produce his one-act opera Don Crepuscolo, at Athens Megaron Concert Hall.  This is his only extant operatic work and was staged in the San Giacomo theatre in Corfu in 1815.  In fact Grove states that this is the earliest extant Greek opera.




Page initially published in  October 2006