Steffani’s Orlando Generoso: Drama and Music
Orlando Furioso Orlando Generoso .is the third of the six three-act operas that Steffani created at the court of Hanover between 1689 and 1695. He had moved there in the summer of 1688 from Munich, where he had been employed from 1667, first as a singer, then as an organist and finally, from 1681, as director of chamber music. During these twenty-one years he had composed Latin psalms and motets, secular Italian chamber cantatas and duets, the music for an equestrian ballet, and five operas (1681–1688). He was thirty-three years old when he went to Hanover, where Duke Ernst August, having disbanded the chapel of his Catholic predecessor, Johann Friedrich, had decided to place Italian opera on a firm footing. Ernst August believed that the cultivation of high-quality opera at the court would raise him and his duchy in the estimation of the emperor and the imperial electors and thus strengthen his case for the elevation of Hanover to an electorate. He had retained, enlarged and improved the instrumental ensemble and ordered the construction of a magnificent new theatre, which was approaching completion, and in Ortensio Mauro he had a poet and secretary capable of writing librettos. Steffani was appointed Kapellmeister and made responsible for composing the music and directing the performances.
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