In the world of romantic opera with Anima Eterna
‘My interest is almost always for music with a dramatic side, music that almost automatically makes images appear in your mind’.
For more than thirty-five years, Giovanni Antonini has been the inspired artistic leader of Il Giardino Armonico, an ensemble that like Anima Eterna was formed in the 1980s. With revolutionary fervour, Antonini changed the way we perform Italian baroque music. ‘His’ Vivaldi – dramatic, dynamic and spectacular – is now etched in our collective memory forever. Since then, he has continued to resolutely seek deep, vivid timbres and long, finely-spun-out lines with Il Giardino Armonico. The results of this impressive search can be heard in the spirited recordings made as part of the Haydn2032 project, recording all of Haydn’s many symphonies. But what about the post-Haydn repertoire?
‘Anima Eterna and my own orchestra, Il Giardino Armonico, started up about the same time, but we’ve each taken a completely different course. That’s precisely what makes it so exciting. I love to bring together two different worlds and to see what comes out of it’.
With all its experience in the romantic repertoire, Anima Eterna was the ideal travelling companion on this journey. Giovanni Antonini had long wished to go in search of the roots of nineteenth-century bel canto, not by approaching it from what came after it, but by starting with what preceded it. Antonini hears a direct vocal line from Monteverdi, through Italian opera and Mozart, to Rossini and Bellini. His goal is to take Anima Eterna along on this exciting voyage to a historically informed bel canto. And this voyage concerns not just singers, but the instrumentalists as well. They are also looking with Antonini at what they can learn from the bel canto: its long, but airy lines, the subtle rubato and the narrative power.
‘I define my musical practice as an ongoing experiment. I start with an idea, a hypothesis. Then I start to experiment, just like someone in a laboratory. I try something, modify my idea and then I try again. That’s why I sometimes like rehearsals more than concerts. Because then you’re free to go just as far as you want to’. – Giovanni Antonini
Anima Eterna in turn is delving – for the first time – into the world of opera and musical theatre, and is delighted to be doing so. A journey that starts with Mozart and Haydn, passes Rossini then Bellini and ultimately, after some winding detours through Shakespeare’s dramatic imagination, lands in Mozart’s Don Giovanni.