I wrote about Otto Nicolai’s second opera a couple of years ago. There’s only one complete recording of the work. It’s from the Chemnitz Opera which performed it in 2008 . The opera, based on Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, was thought lost as its score was obliterated by bombings in World War II. It was successfully reconstructed using material from a variety of sources.
The almost completely forgotten opera turns out to be a fine example of the Italian style opera brought to its highest level by Gaetano Donizetti. While I included the end of Act 1 in my earlier piece about the opera, it’s so good that I decided to add to my series of finales.
Musically, this concertante is structured in the typical way that characterized grand conclusions in bel canto operas. It starts with an acapella section that leads to an adagio of exceptional beauty. Nicolai manages to extend and develop this section with a skill that only the masters of early 19th century Italian opera could manage. A transitional passage mainly for the tenor leads to a stretta that is both vigorous and exciting. This piece alone is enough to justify performing the opera, but the rest of it is on an equally high level.
Nicolai is mainly known as the composer of The Merry Wives of Windsor, but this work too is worthy of a place in the repertory. It also emphasizes the loss to music that was debited by the composer’s premature death from a stroke at age 38. Il Templario Act 1 finale