Sunday, May 4th, 2008
Commissioned by the deliciously titled Franz Anton, Count of Sporck, “Argippo” — a tale of romance and intrigue at a Maharajah’s court — until yesterday had been performed only once in the Count’s private theater in 1730 before the entire score disappeared.
A single copy of the libretto remained, however, in Prague’s National Library, and that’s where Czech harpsichordist and conductor of a Baroque ensemble Ondrej Macek started his search.
Macek’s next “logical” step was to sniff out the movements of the Italian musicians recruited to perform the 1730 premier.
“After Prague, the Antonio Denzio company left for Regensburg (Germany), so I decided to go there myself.” His quest led him to the private archives of the princely home of Thurn und Taxis, in Bavaria.
Within two weeks, Macek happened upon the scores, tucked inside an 18th-century musical manual.
“I immediately knew that this is what I was looking for because it corresponded to the libretto from Prague’s National Library,” said Macek.
Nothing was left then but to perform the opera, and that’s what Macek and the Baroque ensemble Hofmusici did on Saturday, May 3rd, in one of the few remaining locations in Prague that has the proper acoustics for Baroque music: the Spanish Hall in Prague Castle.