In 1991, under the auspices of the Institute for the Musical Heritage in Piedmont and the Piedmont Region was founded in Turin the ensemble Astrée, specializing in training instrumental repertoire six eighteenth-century historians and criteria with the use of original instruments.
Jordi Savall (born 1941), one of the world's leading players of the viola da gamba, founded the ensemble Hespиrion XX in 1974. Savall's goal — and that of co-founders Montserrat Figueras, Hopkinson Smith, and Lorenzo Alpert — was to explore lesser-known repertories of the European Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque periods; their special love has been early Spanish music. The group has toured over five continents and produced well over 50 recordings (many on the Astree Audivis label). The group's membership changes with the repertory of an individual recording or performance project, and with the particular orchestration envisioned by Savall.
Tomas Breton's La Dolores from 1895–in which all the male characters love the heroine, Dolores, who works in an inn–is an opera espagnola: a full-blown opera, not a zarzuela, and its plot, characters, mood, and music could belong to no other country but Spain. Breton's musical idiom is late romantic, and he's a fine composer. The opera's acts build with good intensity, and throughout he keeps the local flavor alive with dances and rhythms that are peculiarly Spanish.
Listening to this work so soon after hearing Zauberflote one is amazed anew that Mozart could write two such totally contrasted pieces within months of each other. Here, in the composer's last opera seria, we are in another world, one of formality tempered by the deep emotions engendered by love and jealousy. Instead of birdcatchers and Masonic rights we are dealing with historic figures in a supposedly historic context with down-to-earth feelings. For each Mozart finds precisely the appropriate music.