Arcadia is an imaginary location based in Arcadia which is located in Greece. The idea was founded on a wish by a group of intellectuals to return to a state of esthetic and moral grace with a love of nature , which characterized in their opinion an idealized Ancient Greek society. This imaginary place was populated by Satyrs, Nymphs, shepherds and shepherdesses, ruled by the God Pan.
In February 1656 in Rome the Academia degli Arcadi was created by Queen Christina of Sweden which earlier had abdicated the throne, converted to Catholicism, and took up residence in Rome.
This literary circle included poets and philosophers as well as composers such as Stradella, Sxarlatti and Corelli who composed and dedicated works to her. After her death the Academia was institutionalized in her honor, and elected her as “Vasilissa” , as its symbolic head.
The Academia lasted for more than 200 years and upheld the ideas of Arcadianism up to the 20th century.
The well known librettist Pietro Metastasio was a member, and incorporated the arcadian ideals in his “Re Pastore”, the most famous composition of the piece was by Mozart.
Another famous composer who became a staunch supporter of Arcadianism and its ideals was Haendel, whose work “Il Pastor Fido” is an example of his arcadian ideas.
The Arcadian Ideal was strongly questioned after the French Revolution which saw arcadianism as a creation of the Old Regime, and advocated in its place a return to Classicism. The Academia incorporated many other Sciences such as Archeology and History. In 1819 a Giornale Arcadico was published with emphasis on Italian Literature, but gradually fell into oblivion.
The archives of the Academia can be found in Rome in the Biblioteca Angelica.
In honor of the celebration for inclusion of the city of Tripolis to the International Network of “Citta Meditteranea della Musica” and in association with the International Arcadian Society, a concert was given at the Mihalis Cacoyiannis Foundation on the 25th of May 2016.
Marita Paparizou who is an accomplished mezzo specializing mainly in the Baroque repertoire, took upon her shoulders an extremely demanding concert comprised of Vivaldi’s “Stabat Mater” ( which she has recorded with the Solisti Veneti under Claudio Scimone) , and arias from operas by Haendel and Vivaldi.
Vassilis Anastassiou, a greek opera director undertook the difficult task of “directing” the whole evening. He very sensibly opted for unobtrusive projections of photographs on the background which were in accord with the music. This solution worked miracles, since the audience had a visual “escape” from the artists themselves, creating in their mind their own vision. Some of the photographs enhanced a sense of calmness, a near zen experience, with a “clin d’ oeil” at the end with the projection of a painting of Michael Jackson as Apollo.
The program opened with Haendel’s “Harmonious Blacksmith” from J.Ventura on the harpsichord which sounded rather weird at the beginning, as if off-key, probably due to the change of temperature in the Hall, since the air condition suddenly went on, a situation that very easily affects the sensitive tuning of the instrument.
After Vivaldi’s Cello Sonata (RV 40) with the cellist Susan Norton, things improve gradually with Vivaldi’s “Stabat Mater” by M. Paparizou. Her voice was kept to the minimum singing with reverence and calmness one of Vivaldi’s masterpieces. The final “Amen” was perfection itself closing the first part of the concert.
The second part was an altogether different kettle of fish. Dimitris Yiakas, on of Greece’s most accomplished accompanist took over with a thunderous introduction to Juno’s great aria “Iris hence away…” from Haendel’s “Semele”. Marita Paparizou responded with an equally dramatic rendition of the aria, only to be followed by Rinaldo’s aria “Venti turbini..” which was literally “turbinous”.
The young counter – tenor Vassilis Bouris tackled Caesar’s aria “Va tacito..” from Haendel’s Opera of the same title. He possess a sturdy, powerful voice which need more schooling and refinement. He must also work on his posture onstage as he looked rather stiff.
“Vorrei vendicarmi..” was the next Haendel aria sung by M.Paparizou with full dramatic fervor,
the highlight of the evening was however Ruggero’s aria “Sol da te..” from Vivaldi’s masterpiece “Orlando Furioso”. M. Paparizou was accompanied by Susan Norton on the cello and by the talented flutist Thodoris Mavromatis, who is one of Greece’s most accomplished musician. He accompanied the singer with a unique sense of feeling and love for Vivaldi’s music, complimenting to the utmost perfection M.Paparizou’s singing which elevated this gorgeous aria to new heights.The voice was round , velvety with a beautiful phraseggio and vocal arches. From then onwards the evening progressed to an unprecedented finale, starting with “Sveglatevi nel core..”
from Haendel’s Alcina which was sung in perfect manner by Rosa Poulimenou, a very accomplished greek soprano. Her sense of style and feeling for Haendel’s music was more than evident in her performance. She has a great future ahead of her.
The ensuing duet from the same opera blended to perfection the voices of both artists, leading to a fiery tempestuous finale with the bravura aria “Se lento ancora il fulmine..” Zanaida’s aria from the newly discovered opera “Argippo” by Vivaldi, a First Performance in Greece of this music.
M.Paparizou tackled the vertiginous coloraturas of the aria, with razor sharp accuracy and a perfection that was unprecedented leading the audience, and rightly so, to a standing ovation.
All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, all the artists gave their best, something that is rare in such kind of concerts.