Soloists, Mixed Voices, Piano 4 Hands
Opera Lucca and Classic Lyric Arts Festival
La contesa canora (The Singing Competition) is a secular cantata in Italian for 21 soloists, choir and piano four hands which reenacts the singing competition between the Pierides and the Muses as recounted in the fifth book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The nine arrogant daughters of Piero dared to challenge the Muses to a singing competition in Mount Helicon. The Hamadryads, or forest nymphs, together with the allegorical figure of Harmony were elected judges. The Pierides glorified themselves and belittled the gods through their song. The Muses elected Calliope to compete for them and the whole of nature came alive to echo her sweet song. The Muses triumphed and, as punishment for their hubris, transformed the sisters into magpies. The present musical setting combines excerpts of Ovid’s account translated into Italian sung by a baritone narrator with a libretto by Ottavio Rinuccini (1562-1621) originally written as an Intermdio for the wedding celebrations of Ferdinando de’ Medici and Christine of Lorraine in 1589. The musical language brings this legend to life with opulent harmonies, rich textures, lyric melodies and concludes with a grand fugue for the entire cast.