“Il Giustino”. Melodramma in tre atti
Venetian version. Libretto by Nicolò Beregan

Performing edition with musical additions by Michael Behringer based on a scholarly manuscript by Rudolf Bossard

Anastasio (S), Arianna (S), Giustino (S), Eufemia (S), Vitaliano (A), Andronico (S), Amantio (T) Polimante (B), Erasto (B), Brillo (B), Ombra di Vitaliano seniore (B), Atlante (B), Venere (S), Allegrezza (S), Fortuna (S), Gloria (S), Eternità (A) Tromba, Vl I/II, Va I/II, B.c.

Performing material
Full score and performing material available for hire
Libretto. Complete Italian text and German translation with notes by Sabine Radermacher
€ 12,-

Protected by copyright under §§70/71 Section 1 UrhG. VG Musikedition should be informed of all performances.

By the end of the seventeenth century, extended solo scenes had disappeared from Venetian operas, a point that sets them apart from the mid-century operas of Monteverdi and Cavalli. The recitatives are now brief and are repeatedly interrupted by short arioso passages or by brief but extremely numerous arias, of which there are around eighty. The result is a colourful, animated mosaic made up of many tiny stones that is as remote as conceivably possible from the later opera seria tradition, in which the acts were schematically divided up into lengthy recitatives and even longer da capo arias. Among the hallmarks of Venetian operas of the late seicento are a lively pace and the use of contrast, surprises, astonishment and the fascination of the unexpected. Only a few decades later opera reformers were beginning to find this style too confusingly varied, but it is a style that is familiar to today’s observer. Rapid and short edits are a typical feature of our own clip culture in music, while the division of the plot into several brief episodes has proved to be an extremely effective stylistic device in the modern cinema ever since Robert Altman’s Short Cuts of 1993. Il Giustino was first performed at the Teatro San Salvatore in 1683, when it was wildly acclaimed. Within twenty years it had been taken up by practically every major Italian opera house. The two principal factors in its extraordinary success were its music and a libretto that is unusually succinct for a Baroque opera. Later generations of composers, including Johann Sebastian Bach and Handel, thought highly of the music of a composer who during the 1680s was maestro di cappella at St Mark’s in Venice, but it finally began to go out of fashion at the start of the eighteenth century. Even after that date, however, Nicolò Beregan’s account of the legendary rise of the peasant Justinian to the position of emperor continued to attract interest, forming the basis of numerous later settings by composers such as Albinoni, Vivaldi and Handel. It would be no exaggeration to say that with Giustino, Beregan wrote one of the most important of all Baroque librettos.