An interview with the Italian conductor Simone Perugini about Rc Classic Record cd release dedicated to Cimarosa

Rc Record Classic will release on March, 21 a CD with Italian composer Domenico Cimarosa’s music. An interview with Simone Perugini who conducted the recording perfomance.

Simone Perugini

On March 21, Rc Record Classic label will be released a new CD dedicated to the Opera Overtures by Domenico Cimarosa. The CD will be contained overtures from the most famous works of the composer (i.e. the ones from the operas Il Matrimonio Segreto and Gli Orazi e i Curiazi), but also from other unpublished works (such as the ones from Penelope, I Traci Amanti, L’Impegno Superato). This release is an event of very high cultural significance that will reveal the great talent of the Italian composer.

Dr. Perugini, why do you chose to record music by Cimarosa for this new cd release (the first one o your career)?

For several reasons. The first one is my tenacious – and almost pathological – certainty about the importance of Cimarosa’s production for the history of Italian opera. Cimarosa, at their own time, was, in couple with Paisiello and with a few other composers, the most imitated by other musicisian, the most represented and celebrated from Italian and European public. I always thought: “If the XVIIIth Century the public cultivated a real veneration for Cimarosa, must be a reason for this”. Therefore it was discovered and seriously considered, since the public of the XVIIIth Century were neither more stupid nor less sensitive than us.

Did you discover this reason, finally?

After a lot of years of studies (I deal with Cimarosa since 1993, as a musicologist and researcher primarily, but also as conductor) I realized that the genuineness of his musical thought, his stylish perfection – depth by a lot of year passed at the Music Conservatory of Santa Maria di Loreto in Naples under the careful tutelance of the greatest music teachers of his time – , the eternal recurrence of the comic opera mechanisms in his works, always current, were and are the distinguishing features of its easy and immediate use also for a contemporary public.

And what about the features of Cimarosa’s Overtures?

Cimarosa, as all his contemporarie collegues, composed operas in a very few days. This feature is due not only by his genius (all other composers well technically skille were able to compose quickly and without many second thoughts), but just because the production praxis of the time and the canonical structures on which both librettos and full score were composed, it accelerated the creative process. Cimeaorsa composed 65 operas (of which we have the holograph scores) and for these works he composed Overtures in three maxi-structures, so to speak. Until the first half of the 80s, Cimarosa prefers the tripartite structure (Allegro-Andante- Allegro in ternary time singature); from the 2nd half of that decade, Cimarosa completely abandoned the tripartite form and adopted more shorten forms characterized by a single fast mouvement, sometimes preceded by a short slow introduction in a rhapsodic style.

Tell me how you met Cimarosa during your career.

Cimarosa was a chaste adolescent love, soon became a kind of marriage, he and I are now a sor of de facto union. When I met his music for the first time, I was between 17 and 18 years old. In the country where I lived, Cortona, in Tuscany (Italy), every summer I had the good fortune to work with Studio Lirico, a sort of Summer Program for opera singers from the United States, Sweden and other countries. Studio Lirico was coordinated and organized by two pioneers of Cimarosa’s music rediscovery, now sadly passed away: Nick Rossi (a musicologist) and Talmage Fauntleroy (a stage director). Every year the students, guided by their teachers, staged an unpublished work of the Italian comic opera repertoire and the choice fell on a work by Cimarosa often. It was love at first sight …

Then, over the years, you become a reference point for all those who wish to study and deepen the work of Cimarosa. How was the transformation from “teenage love” to “point of reference”?

By slow, incremental steps that briefly summarize: I founded a Musical Academy (Accademia Lirica Toscana “Domenico Cimarosa”), in a second moment, I was contacted by the music Publisher Artaria Editions Limited, for which I’m the editor of Cimarosa’s critical editions, then I was contacted by Naxos (a leading Record label) and by new record label Rc Record. I wrote and published three essays on Cimarosa … and so, little by little, I realized that I was being increasingly contacted by publishers, musicians and musicologists who, on their own, they wanted to deepen their studies on Cimarosa.

Finally, do you have other recording projects for the future?

Yes, two projects. But I speak only about the first one for luck, beacause the second one is currently being established. Meanwhile, after this first recording, I will conducted a new recording, that will be released in mid-June, again for Rc Record Classic: Cimarosa’s Missa Pro Defunctis,composed on 1787.We will realize the recording by my critical edition of the Missa.

And about you relationship with Harmoniae Templum Chamber Orchestra?

A wonderful collaboration, to say the least. Highly trained young musicians, highly specialized in the performance practice of the XVIIIth Century music, with which I will work even later. After a few moments of intial mutual embarrassment, everything was booming and the end result, as you can listen to the CD, it was, at least in my opinion, very, very good.

Do you have a favorite books?

I do not know what has to do with the rest of the interview, however, say, classic novels and thrilling books.

For you, music is a job. Do you have any hobby?

Even here I see barely connecting with Cimarosa, but so … I do not have many hobbies (which I prefer, for authentic snobbishness, call by the Italian word Passatempi) outside of music: cinema, of course, I like also to photograph female portraits, reading as mentioned above, and especially to have a lot of friends who have nothing to do with my work. I hate talking to friends about a Seventh Dominant chord or on counterpoint norms. Oh! I love very much to laugh with my friends and with my girlfriend.

Laurie Farrel Smith