|Genre Categories||; ; ; ; ;; ; ;|
|Composer||Reichardt, Johann Friedrich|
|Opus/Catalogue NumberOp./Cat. No.||PröR 210-230|
|Year/Date of CompositionY/D of Comp.||1789|
|First Performance.||16 October 1789|
|First Publication.||1789 (vocal score), c.1797 (full score)|
|Librettist||Antonio de Filistri da Caramondani|
|Language||Italian / German|
|Composer Time PeriodComp. Period||Classical|
|Instrumentation||voices, chorus, orchestra 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 4 bassoons, 2 basset horns, serpentone, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, strings|
Under the leadership of Egisto (soprano), the Gauls successfully storm the walls of Rome. The Roman noblewoman Ostilia (soprano) is brought before Brennus (bass), King of the Gauls, who immediately falls in love with her. She, however, loves the Roman consul Fabio (castrato). They determine to flee. To their surprise, they are offered the aid of Egisto, who is actually the Teutonic maid Zelinda in disguise, formerly the beloved of Brennus. Twice the lovers attempt escape, and twice they are intercepted. To win Ostilia, Brennus threatens to put Fabio to death and simultaneously initiates a bloody sack of Rome. But then Egisto discloses her true identity to him, reproves him for his infidelity and reminds him of the promise of the gods that he will found a new nation in the North. Brennus takes stock, calls an end to the hostilities, returns Ostilia to Fabio, and, reunited with Zelinda, turns his steps northward.
Filistri’s contrived ending turned on the dubious legend that the historical Brennus, who never entered Italy, had founded the Mark Brandenburg (Brennabor). The opera was first given on the birthday of Friedrich Wilhelm III but, as one reviewer put it, as a historical compliment it was neither historical nor a compliment. It was visually spectacular, nonetheless, with ballet and chorus integrated into the finales. Despite the poor libretto, Reichardt’s music ensured a triumph. The overture remained a favourite at Berlin well into the next century. Another musical high point, Ostilia’s two-tempo rondò ‘Dei di Roma’, includes obbligato parts for solo horn, bassoon and cello. Reichardt tailored the opera’s title role to the voice of Ludwig Fischer, culminating in his aria ‘Dirai che di pace’. Fischer sang the part the following season and in a German concert version in 1798, as well as in an 1802 revival, for which Reichardt wrote new ballet music.
In Pröpper's worklist of Reichardt's dramatic, vocal, stage works etc. (Buhnenwerke), Brenno and all associated works (arias, piano reductions, excerpts, etc.) fall into the area 210–230 (so for instance PröR 225 is Brennus' recitative and aria E ben lo sdegno (see), PröR 214 is a keyboard arrangement of the overture ( ), and PröR 220/10 is dance music from the opera for piano or orchestra ( (manuscript copy from around 1792 pointed to by RISM).)