Page last updated at 21:17 GMT, Saturday, 3 May 2008 22:17 UK

Vivaldi work revived 278 years on

By Rob Cameron
BBC News, Prague

Antonio Vivaldi
Vivaldi wrote dozens of operas

A long-lost opera by the Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi has been performed for the first time in 278 years, in the city of Prague.

Argippo was written for the Czech capital and premiered there in 1730.

But the opera - a tale of "passion, love and trickery" in an Indian maharaja's court - later disappeared without trace.

Most of the score was discovered in Germany by a young Czech musician who completed the missing parts.

Libretto clue

Ondrej Macek is a keen harpsichordist with a passion for tracking down rare music.

But all he had to go on was the original booklet from the opening night containing the libretto, and the knowledge that the troupe of Italian musicians who first performed Argippo in Prague later moved to Germany.


Performers rehearse the opera

"I found out that in 1733, three years after the premiere, the Italian music ensemble appeared in Regensburg. They'd been invited there after the theatre in Prague burnt down," he said.

"I thought the Italians might have brought something with them, and I was lucky to find an anonymous music collection by various composers, which also included arias from Argippo."

Only about two-thirds of the score had survived the centuries, and so Mr Macek used other arias from Vivaldi to fit the preserved text.

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