Monday, January 17, 2011

The Music: Exsultate Jubilate

In the year 1772 when Mozart was 17, he and his father, Leopold, traveled to Italy where he was commissioned to compose an opera (Lucio Silla), for the theater in Milan. It was there that Mozart was introduced to an amazing castrato (adult male soprano), named Venanzio Rauzzini, whom young Mozart said "Sings like an angel". Mozart composed his motet Exsultate Jubilate especially for Rauzzini and it was premiered on 17 January 1773 in Milan.

Only a few years later, Rauzzini moved to England and became a noted and respected voice instructor. When Nancy Storace turned 11 years old, her father turned her vocal instruction over to Rauzzini who, after hearing that some damage had been done to her voice (most likely due to over-singing and too much intense performing at such a young age), forbade her to perform for a year while he worked with her to undo the damage.

Rauzzini finished out his life and career in England and died in Bath in April of 1810 at the age of 63. Nancy Storace and her then common law husband, the English tenor, John Brahm (who had also been a student of Rauzzini's), erected a stone plaque in his memory.

The following is the Alleluia from Mozart's Exsultate Jubilate. Sung by male soprano Michael Maniaci.

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