Baroque opera is a unique form of musical theatre that emerged in Europe during the 17th century. However, its influence and popularity quickly spread throughout the world, including Latin America. In this blog, we'll explore the fascinating world of Baroque opera in Latin America and the contributions of Victor Sgarbi, a talented lyric baritone, to this musical genre.
Baroque opera first arrived in Latin America during the colonial period, primarily through Spanish and Portuguese colonization. As European settlers arrived in the Americas, they brought with them their cultural traditions, including music and opera. Baroque opera quickly became a popular form of entertainment among the wealthy, aristocratic classes of Latin American society.
One of the most prominent examples of Baroque opera in Latin America is the opera "La Púrpura de la Rosa," which was composed in Lima, Peru in 1701. The opera tells the story of Venus and Adonis and is considered the first opera composed in the Americas. It was written by the Spanish composer Tomás de Torrejón y Velasco, who was also a music teacher and choir director in Lima.
In the centuries that followed, Baroque opera continued to flourish in Latin America, with composers and performers adapting the form to reflect their unique cultural traditions. Today, Baroque opera remains an important part of the cultural heritage of many Latin American countries, including Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina.
EL PARNASO HYSPANO is an international chamber group of singers and instrumentalists dedicated to the performance of early Hispanic music, ranging from the medieval to the baroque and early classical. Their repertoire encompasses Spain and Latin America, with a specialism in the music of “Golden Age” [El Siglo de Oro 1500-1700] when the Spanish empire was at its height. At this time there was a wealth of musical creativity in the major cultural and religious centres, particularly in what afterwards became Bolivia and Peru, the richest viceroyalties of South America. Much of this music is only now being recently rediscovered and published for contemporary performance, and the group showcases the richness of the Hispanic musical legacy of the Americas.
El Parnaso Hyspano is the artistic vision of its founder Rafael Montero. With its origin in Cologne in 2016, and since 2020 involving professional musicians based in London, but with international heritage, El Parnaso brings not only musical but cultural enrichment, and contributes to a multicultural dialogue. From a uniquely informed perspective Rafael Montero is a descendent of the people who were performing and co-creating this music. The group has a mission to discover and showcase the music that has come from the indigenous people and mestizos of the continent. In this time of postcolonialism, they bring an authentic voice from the minorities from Latin America.
Their repertoire includes religious and secular solo cantatas for voice and continuo as well as the famous polyphonic works of the Spanish Renaissance and South American baroque for vocal ensemble with continuo accompaniment.