An earlier version of Vivaldi’s opera Orlando Furioso has been discovered at the Biblioteca Nazionale in Turin in Vivaldi’s personal library. It had previously been overlooked because of a cataloguing error, which attributed the work to Giovanni Alberto Ristori.
The score, dated 1714, was composed 13 years before the familiar 1727 version of the opera.
The libretto, based on the epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto, is the same as the 1727 version, but the music is completely different. A baritone sings the part of Orlando in the newly discovered version, instead of a mezzo-soprano in the 1727 work, and there are also 20 previously unheard arias in the manuscript.
Speaking to The Guardian, Vivaldi scholar Federico Maria Sardelli, who discovered the manuscript, said: ‘It’s a gift from heaven. The music is completely new for everybody.’ Saradelli went on to explain that Vivaldi was composing this version of the opera around the same time as The Four Seasons: ‘There are no close thematic links, but the musical language is very close.’