A year after the two hundredth anniversary of Gaetano Donizetti's birth (1797) and 150 years after his death (1848), the Teatro de la Maestranza de Sevilla chose to open its 1998-9 operatic season with four performances of Alahor in Granata, an almost forgotten opera by the composer. This is an event al a huge historical importance since it marks the first time that the opera has been performed in the XXth century. Alahor in Granata was first performed in the Teatro Carolino in Palermo on the 7th of January 1826 but, although the opera was again staged in the same city in 1830, it later passed into oblivion and has never been performed ever since. Up until now, as was the case with many of Donizetti's works, a hundred and seventy two years after its premiére, we had very little news about this beautifull masterpiece's original fate. Perhaps the fact that the music score was never published at the time of its creation, and the fact that Donizetti was to use some of its musical passages in some of his later works, lead us to assume that during his life, the composer gave little or no importance to this operas youthful score.
Evencio Castellanos is one of Venezuela's best-known composers, notable not least as one of the groundwork-makers for that country's much-lauded "sistema" of music education. This album presents some of his best-known works, idiomatically and enthusiastically performed by the Orquesta Sinfonica de Venezuela under Jan Wagner. All three works are nationalistic, with plucked strings stating popular Venezuelan rhythms and melodies against various orchestral backdrops.
A splendid cast as well as an avant-garde production that makes extensive use of large projection screens and includes members of the orchestra as actors onstage result in one of the most exciting opera performances in recent years.