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Long Beach Opera resurrects a Vivaldi work

March 21, 2009 | 12:00 pm


When they hear the name Vivaldi, most people no doubt think of "The Four Seasons." It seems safe to say that that quartet of Baroque violin concertos is among the most beloved "classical" works in the canon.

But by some accounts, Vivaldi also wrote nearly 100 operas, and one of them, "Motezuma," is about to receive its first staging in the Western Hemisphere -- by Long Beach Opera.

"Motezuma" (yes, that's the way Vivaldi's librettist spelled it) is loosely based on the story of Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortés and his relationship with the Aztec emperor Montezuma. But the operative word is "loosely." For one thing, it has a happy ending.

In this week's Arts & Books section, David Ng recounts the vicissitudes of "Motezuma," long thought to be lost, and how it wound up being produced in Long Beach. To find out why soprano Courtney Huffman's reaction to the production's concept was, "Oh, my God, I'm going to have to start learning to flip my hair more and act all princessy," go here.

-- Craig Fisher

Photo: Courtney Huffman, right, and Peabody Southwell rehearsing "Motezuma." Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times