Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (4 March 1678 – 28 July 1741), nicknamed il Prete Rosso ("The Red Priest") because of his red hair, was an Italian Baroque composer, Catholic priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice. Recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, his influence during his lifetime was widespread over Europe. Vivaldi is known mainly for composing instrumental concertos, especially for the violin, as well as sacred choral works and over forty operas. His best known work is a series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons.
The work is an extraordinary curiosity; a child of the heady days just before the French Revolution, Tarare is the famous French writer's only opera and one of the Italian composer's rare French scores. First and most strikingly a work of social and political commentary, Tarare is also an entertaining work of theatre. Salieri's music supports these aims admirably and offers a few memorable moments of its own. As an opera form, Tarare defies easy categorization; it may be best described as a comedic satire dressed in the clothes of a sprawling 5 act lyric tragedy, complete with Prologue and a grand divertissement with dance.
Antonio Salieri set Shakespeare’s comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor to music in 1799, and his work was successfully premiered in Vienna the same year. Michael Hampe staged Salieris’s Falstaff at the Schwetzingen SWR Festival in 1995 with similar success – wonderfully supported by the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Arnold Östman. The libretto by Carlo Prospero Defranceschi reduces Shakespeare’s original play to a few main characters and drastically simplifies the plot. This gives John Del Carlo, Teresa Ringholz, Richard Croft and Delores Ziegler a lot of space for their artistic interpretation and brilliant singing. The work lives from the wealth of the Italian opera buffa and absorbed influences from the German Singspiel (song-play), and delights with a number of great arias.