For much of his working life, Haydn lived and breathed opera and some of his best music was written for the stage. But until recently, his operas have suffered from chronic under-exposure.

Donald Macleod blows a few layers of dust from these unfairly neglected works and introduces a complete performance of Haydn's very first comic opera, La canterina.

Overture (Lo speziale)

Sachsische Staatskapelle Dresden

Giuseppe Sinopoli (conductor)

EMI Classics 7243 5 56535 2 9, Trs 4-6

La canterina - Act 1

Ingrid Kertesi, Andrea Ulbrich, Antal Pataki, Jozsef Mukk (playing on period instruments)

Capella Savaria

Pal Nemeth (conductor)

Hungaroton Classic HCD 31664, Trs 1-6

La canterina - Act 2

Hungaroton Classic HCD 31664, Trs7-13.

Some of Haydn's best music was written for the stage, but his operas are less well-known.


Donald Macleod continues his exploration of Haydn's neglected operatic masterpieces with two comedies from the 1770s - L'infedelta delusa and L'incontro improvviso. The latter features the same kind of Oriental escape storyline that Mozart was to use a few years later in his Abduction from the Seraglio.

L'infedelta delusa (Act 1 - Overture)


If Haydn's operas have failed to catch on, it's certainly not the fault of the music. Donald Macleod considers the composer's dreadful choice of libretti. In terms of textual turkey, La vera costanza is a prime offender, yet it contains some of Haydn's most inspired music.

Il mondo della luna (Act 2 - finale)

Domenico Trimarchi (baritone)

Luigi Alva, Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor)

Frederica von Stade, Lucia Valentini-Terrani (mezzo-soprano)

Arleen Auger, Edith Mathis (soprano)

Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne

Antal Dorati (conductor/continuo)

Philips 473 851-2, CD9, Trs 26-28

Il Mondo della luna (Act 3)

Philips 473 851-2, CD10 (Trs 1-5)

Aria di Donna Stella: D'una sposa meschinella (insertion aria for Paisiello's La Frascatana)

Edith Mathis (soprano)

Armin Jordan (conductor)

Philips 473 851-2, CD10, Tr 11

So che una bestia sei (La vera costanza - Act, Masino)

Antal Dorati (conductor)

Philips 473 476-2, CD 9, Tr 6

La vera costanza (Act 1, Finale)

Jessye Norman, Helen Donath, Kari Lovaas (soprano)

Claes H Ahnsjo, Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor)

Wladimiro Ganzarolli, Domenico Trimarchi (baritone)

Philips 473 476-2, CD 9, Trs 17-20.

Haydn often chose awful libretti. La vera costanza is typical, yet its music is inspired.


Donald Macleod continues to examine Haydn's neglected operas. He investigates how the composer took a striking new direction in L'isola disabitata and explores La fedelta premiata, which contains arguably the finest operatic finale outside of Mozart's Da Ponte operas.

L'isola disabitata (Sinfonia)

Orchestra de Chambre de Lausanne

Antal Dorati (conductor)

Philips 473 851-2, Disc 6, Tr 1

L'isola disabitata (Act 2, Finale)

Norma Lerer (contralto)

Linda Zoghby (soprano)

Luigi Alva (tenor)

Renato Bruson (baritone)

Philips 473 851-2, Disc 7, Tr 9

La fedelta premiata (Act 1, Sc 3)

Lucia Valentini-Terrani (mezzo-soprano)

Tonny Landy (tenor)

Frederica von Stade (mezzo-soprano)

Alan Titus (baritone)

Ileana Cotrubas (soprano)

Maurizio Mazzieri (baritone)

Philips 473 476-2, CD1, Trs 15-19

La fedelta premiata (Act 2, Finale)

Kari Lovaas (soprano)

Philips 473 476-2, CD 5, Trs 10-14.

Haydn changed course in L'isola disabitata; La fedelta premiata has a fine operatic finale


Donald Macleod looks at the final chapter of Haydn's operatic career, with excerpts from Armida, a tale of love and sorcery set in the Middle Ages, and Orfeo ed Euridice, a version of the Orpheus myth commissioned for the King's Theatre, Haymarket, at the start of Haydn's first English adventure.

Armida (Act 3, Sc 1)

Christoph Pregardien (tenor)

Patricia Petibon (soprano)

Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano)

Concentus Musicus Wien

Nikolaus Harnoncourt (conductor)

Teldec 8573-81108-2, CD 2, Trs 16-22

Orfeo ed Euridice (Act 2, Sc 1 - conclusion)