Corrupt emperors, virtuous peasants, heroic passions and surprising turns of events remind us of historic events of the Byzantine Empire. The libretto was written in 1683, a year marked by the Ottoman siege of Vienna. Vivaldi probably knew about this period in history, which brought to mind the defence of the Holy Empire as well as the lives of Justinian and Theodora – the most famous imperial couple of the Byzantine period. Perhaps he had also appreciated the fact that Justinian’s predecessor, an emperor of modest origins, had authorised high-ranking people to marry the women in charge of entertaining them. Justinian was therefore able to marry Theodora, an actress and courtesan. For the composer, what did the musical performance of this already ancient libretto mean, when he left Venice, the city of his birth, to seek his fortune in Rome? Vivaldi wanted to prove his music’s notoriety, and even if his stay in Rome did not have any repercussions on his career, Il Giustino remains a tribute to his previous work and a declaration of his faith in the future. Deprived of the presence of the famous castrato Farinelli, this opera was nonetheless a dazzling success. This exemplary token of the composer’s sense of drama benefits from the brilliant interpretation by Ottavio Dantone and the Accademia Bizantina.
Il Giustino, RV 717
Opera in 3 acts represented in the concert version
Libretto by Pariati adapted from Nicolò Beregan
Created during the 1724 carnival at Teatro Capranica, Rome
Edition by Reinhard Strohm Critical edition of the Italian Institute A. Vivaldi of the G. Foundation. Cini di Venezia and Casa Ricordi, Milan
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Delphine Galou studied piano and singing at the same time as philosophy at Sorbonne University. Named as one of the Révélations classiques of the ADAMI in 2004, she was accepted in the Jeunes Voix du Rhin before specialising in the baroque repertoire. She has worked with the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble, I Barocchisti, Accademia Bizantina, Collegium 1704, Venice Baroque Orchestra, Il Complesso Barocco, Les Siècles, Les Arts Florissants, Le Concert des Nations, the Ensemble Matheus, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Le Concert d’Astrée, Les Ambassadeurs and Les Talens Lyriques. She has performed at the Zurich Opera House, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, La Monnaie, Dutch National Opera, the Royal Opera House, at the Händel Festspiele Karlsruhe, Schwetzingen Festival, at the Staatsoper Berlin, Theater an der Wien, Maggio Musicale, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Her recordings include Vespro per la festività dell’Assunta conducted by Martin Gester, Teuzzone with Jordi Savall, Orlando 1714 with Federico Maria Sardelli, La concordia dei pianeti with Andrea Marcon and L’incoronazione di Dario, Il Giustino and Petite messe solennelle by Rossini with Ottavio Dantone. At the Opéra de Lausanne: Bradamante in Alcina (2012), and Speranza / Proserpina in L’Orfeo (2016).
Ottavio Dantone obtained his diplomas for organ and harpsichord at the Conservatorio di Milano. In 1985 he was awarded the basso continuo prize at the Concours international de Paris and in 1986 won 3rd prize at the prestigious International Competition Musica Antiqua in Bruges. Since 1996, he has been artistic director and baroque orchestra conductor of Accademia Bizantina, with which he frequently tours and makes numerous recordings. During the past twenty years, as both soloist and conductor, Ottavio Dantone has broadened his repertoire to the classical and romantic periods. He has performed in international festivals and venues such as La Scala in Milan, the Glyndebourne Festival, the Teatro Real in Madrid, The Royal Opera in Versailles, Zurich Opera House and the BBC Proms. He has made recordings with Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Naïve and Harmonia Mundi, earning him several international awards and unanimous praise from critics.
At the Opéra de Lausanne: Giulio Cesare in Egitto (2008), L’Italiana in Algeri (2010), Alcina (2012), Tancredi (2015), and L’Orfeo (2016).
Accademia Bizantina was created in 1983 in Ravenna, with the aim of playing music ‘in the manner of a big string quartet’. Still with the same chamber music-like approach, the group is entirely managed by its own members who together establish its objectives and artistic direction. In 1989, Ottavio Dantone joined the group as a harpsichordist before being appointed in 1996 its musical and artistic director, thereby guaranteeing the ensemble’s prestige and artistic quality. Under his expert supervision, Accademia Bizantina reconciled philological research and the study of the practice of playing on period instruments, with attentive and respectful reading of the music. The knowledge, imagination and refinement of Dantone’s leadership helped to bring together the musicians’ enthusiasm, making the group one of the most prestigious on the current music scene. The orchestra went on to specialise in the rediscovery of baroque operas, whether major works or operas that had not been sung for several centuries. The ensemble performed in concert halls and festivals worldwide. Their numerous recordings, in particular for Decca, Harmonia Mundi and Naïve, won some highly esteemed prizes, such as Diapason d’Or awards, Midem prizes and a nomination for a Grammy Award for O Solitude with Andreas Scholl. The group’s work with artists as eminent as violinists Viktoria Mullova and Giuliano Carmignola, and countertenor Andreas Scholl, spread with vast international tours and grand recording projects. In September 2018, the recording of Agitata with Delphine Galou won the Gramophone Classical Music Award for the best recital.