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Philemon and Baucis

Philemon and Baucis
Haydn’s only surviving Marionette Opera (1773)
    • Overture "Der Götterrat" Hob. XXIXb:2
  1. Adagio e maestoso - Allegro di molto 4'24
  2. Andante moderato 3'47
  3. Prologue on Mount Olympus Jupiter, Merkur Hob. XXIXb:2 2'53
    • Overture "Philemon und Baucis" Hob. XXIXb:2
  4. Allegro con espressione 3'50
  5. Andante poco allegro 1'58
  6. Scene 1 Coro: In Wolken, hoch emporgetragen Hob. XXIXb:2 3'13
  7. Scene 2 Jupiter, Merkur Hob. XXIXb:2 1'02
  8. Intermezzo Adagio in G major, possibly by Joseph Haydn Hob. XXIXb:2 0'58
  9. Scene 3 Philemon, Baucis Hob. XXIXb:2 0'39
  10. Scene 4 Jupiter, Merkur, the above Hob. XXIXb:2 0'52
    • Scene 5 Jupiter, Merkur, Philemon Hob. XXIXb:2
  11. Scene 5 0'13
  12. Aria: Mehr als zwanzig Jahr' Vermählte 2'48
  13. Scene 5 (continued) 0'33
  14. Aria: Ein Tag, der allen Freude bringt 2'28
  15. Scene 5 (continued) 0'29
  16. Intermezzo Dolce con espressione (Christoph Willibald Gluck) Hob. XXIXb:2 0'54
  17. Scene 6 Baucis, the above Hob. XXIXb:2 0'44
    • Scene 7 Philemon, Baucis Hob. XXIXb:2
  18. Scene 7 0'10
  19. Aria: Heut fühl ich der Armut Schwere 2'40
  20. Scene 7 (continued) 0'15
  21. Scene 8 Philemon Hob. XXIXb:2 0'27
  22. Scene 9 Jupiter, Merkur, Philemon Hob. XXIXb:2 0'32
  23. Scene 10 Jupiter, Merkur Hob. XXIXb:2 0'40
  24. Intermezzo Menuetto in F major (Carlo d´Ordonez) Hob. XXIXb:2 0'58
  25. Scene 11 Aret, Narcissa, the above Hob. XXIXb:2 0'30
    • Scene 12 Narcissa, Aret Hob. XXIXb:2
  26. Scene 12 0'18
  27. Aria: Wenn am weiten Firmamente 2'32
  28. Scene 12 (continued) 0'26
  29. Aria: Dir der Unschuld Seligkeit 3'11
  30. Scene 12 (continued) 0'16
  31. Duetto: Entfloh'n ist nun der Schlummer 3'36
  32. Scene 13 Baucis, the above Hob. XXIXb:2 0'14
  33. Scene 14 Philemon, the above Hob. XXIXb:2 1'07
  34. Intermezzo Adagio e maestoso Hob. XXIXb:2 0'24
    • Scene 15 Jupiter, Merkur, the above Hob. XXIXb:2
  35. Scene 15 1'05
  36. Intermezzo Andande 'Chorale St Antoni' 1'40
  37. Scene 15(continued) 0'16
  38. Scene 16 Peasant men and women, the above Hob. XXIXb:2 0'51
  39. Scene 17 Coro: Triumph, dem Gott der Götter Hob. XXIXb:2 4'41

Marionette, or puppet plays and performances were highly popular in 18th century Vienna, both among the common people and in aristocratic circles.

It is therefore not surprising that Haydn’s employer, Prince Esterhazy, had a special puppet theatre built on his estate, or that the composer wrote six operas for it. Of these, Philemon und Baucis is the only one to have survived more or less intact, although not in the version of the first performance, given in honour of the Empress Maria Theresa in 1773.

The present recording is based on a later version which included orchestral intermezzos by other composers, in accordance with the standard practice of the time. The opera (or rather Singspiel, with spoken dialogue) takes one of Ovid’s Metamorphoses as its point of departure, and tells the story of how Jupiter and Mercury visit earth, and are shocked by 'the horrors and vices' of mankind. It is only the virtue and hospitality displayed by the aged couple Philemon and Baucis that save the world from divine punishment.

In the words of the eminent Austrian actor Hermann Beil, who has also made the text adaptation used here, 'Haydn’s opera seems like a charming, Magic Flute-like moral tale – one in which everybody has a lesson to learn.'

During 2009, three previous titles with Haydn Sinfonietta Wien and Manfred Huss have appeared on BIS. The present recording involves four vocal soloists (a young but experienced cast), two spoken parts (two of the most well-respected actors in the German language) and choir (one of Austria's most well-respected chamber choirs) in a work that for long has only been a footnote in the Haydn literature and discography.

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Music Web International

"With no weak points and bags of refreshingly performed strong ones this is a self-recommending release for a very wide audience [...] As with the other releases in this series which I have encountered, this is a beautifully recorded production, lively in dynamics and with a warmly embracing surround-sound element. This probably gives a richer and more resonant acoustic picture ..."
Dominy Clements
January 2010

Classics Today
Artistic Quality 9/9 Sound Quality

"Huss has found firm, pleasant voices all around – there are no weak links at all. The scoring – flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns, timpani, and strings – is quite colourful too, and the Haydn Sinfonietta Wien makes the most of it. [...] this vividly recorded release gives the fullest picture of this genuinely moving work."
David Hurwitz
October 2009