Vivaldi’s 'bombshell' opera discovered

16 July 2012, 14:03 | Updated: 18 September 2014, 15:26

A hidden manuscript of Vivaldi’s opera 'Orlando Furioso' has been discovered, described as a "bombshell in the world of Baroque opera" by music experts.

A new version of Vivaldi’s opera Orlando Furioso has been discovered in manuscript form, 270 years after the composer’s death. The work is dated 1714, 13 years before Vivaldi composed the version popularly performed today.

The manuscript was hidden in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Turin in Vivaldi’s personal library, but was ignored because it did not bear the composer’s name. Instead, it was catalogued as a revision of a different opera by Giovanni Alberto Ristori.

Vivaldi scholar Federico Maria Sardelli said the music was quite similar to The Four Seasons, despite there not being any obvious thematic links. This could be because Vivaldi was composing both pieces around the same time.

"The music is completely new for everybody," he said. "It's very exciting." 

While the text of both Orlando Furiosos remains the same, the older manuscript is a completely different score. It even contains 20 new arias which have never been heard before.

Susan Orlando, a Vivaldi expert, thinks this new discovery will enable scholars to compare the developments in Vivaldi's style. She's described the new find as a 'gift from heaven'.

She said: "Not only is it amazing in the world of Baroque opera to suddenly find that Vivaldi wrote two Orlando Furiosos, but also what it says about him as a composer – taking a libretto and working it, and then going back to it and working it again. Nobody expected anything like this."

The 'new' Orlando will be premiered at the Festival de Beaune in France on 20 July and released on CD in November.