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Leonardo García Alarcón: conductor & composer

The Argentinian conductor pens the third act of "El Prometeo"!

Door François Hudry | Video van de dag | 8 maart 2020

The multitude of incomplete manuscripts of so many baroque operas and oratorios offers a very tempting playground for today's performers and musicologists. However, it is quite rare for a 21st century artist to compose an entire act from scratch. This however did happen with El Prometeo by Italian composer Antonio Draghi, who was active at the Habsburg court in Vienna.

Composed in 1669, it is one of the few operas from that time written in Castilian, which gives this discovery a vital historical importance. Draghi is a direct heir to Monteverdi and Cavalli, whose works he sang in his youth and whose style he carried forward. As was the style in his day, his music is made up of a deft mixture of comic scenes. This was a tradition that would stretch all the way down to Mozart, via the Jommelli operas that the young composer so admired.

Convinced that what he had discovered was the complete manuscript, Leonardo García Alarcón had found himself trapped when he realised his mistake just as the work was due to open at the Dijon Opera. So he was obliged to either cancel the production, or to assemble other works into a "pasticcio" of the style of the 18th century. The conductor wasn't paralysed by the fear of a blank page: he put himself into Draghi's shoes to compose a whole third act to El Prometeo: the densest, most dramatic part of the artwork, the original of which was irretrievably lost.

Going beyond mere plagiarism, García Alarcón had some fun, paying tribute to Austrian opera, borrowing from Draghi of course, but also from Cesti, Caldara, and all the way up to Mozart.

The result of this tour de force is a perfect illusion: his assimilation of different styles allows him to create music that's inspired by and in perfect harmony with the rest of the score. The Namur Chamber Choir, the many soloists and the bewitching colours of the Cappella Mediterranea all contribute greatly to a production whose success you can feel on this new album published on Alpha.


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