Although it was the fifth opera Franz Joseph Haydn composed
while Kapellmeister of the Esterházy court, “L’infedeltà delusa”
was the first one to survive. It was set to an Italian text, and
after some initial performances at Esterházy, Haydn (1732-1809)
didn’t live to see it performed after 1774. In many respects, it
was almost a proto “Cosi Fan Tutte,” in that the character
“Vespina” was somewhat similar to the “Despina” character in
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera.“L’infedeltà delusa” was
also filled with intrigues, disguises, and a “who should marry
who” plotline that was commonly found in the Comic/Opera
Clearly, it reflects Haydn’s highly-developed compositional
skills, at this stage in his career. In fact, he would go on to
write numerous other operas which would be equally
accomplished, ending with “L Amina del Filosofo Ossia
Orfeo ed Euridice” in 1791, which was not written for the
Esterházy court and not performed during Haydn’s lifetime.
From a purely compositional standpoint, I believe that
Haydn’s operatic writing can bear fair comparison with that
of Mozart (1756-1791), although it lacks Mozart’s depth of
characterization. Haydn’s opera’s have always stood in the
shadows of his quartets, symphonies, and oratorios, etc.
However, anyone who wishes to fully understand him needs
to check out some of his operas. I think they might be surprised
by the quality of the writing.
“L’infedeltà delusa” (Infidelity Thwarted) is a case in point,
with many attractive arias and ensembles. It was written on
a limited scale without chorus, and only required five singers;
therefore, it could be rightly called a “chamber opera.” The plot
was the type that typically doesn’t interest me, and as there
was no libretto in the accompanying booklet, I chose to listen
to it purely as a piece of music, minus any dramatic involvement.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had to resort to this listening strategy!
It was a fine performance, nevertheless. In particular, soprano
Nancy Argenta sounded quite beautiful, and the period instrument
ensemble, Le Petite Bande, played superbly for conductor Sigiswald
Kuijken. The sound engineers also did a fine job, thereby making
this recording worth hearing by anyone wishing to explore the
“nether realms” of the operatic repertoire. Hopefully, you’ll find
it more dramatically “compelling” than I did!