Andrea Luchesi (1741-1801)
La Passione di Gesù Christo
Theodor Anton Henseler, in his 1937 study entitled “Andrea Luchesi, der letze Bonner Hofkapellmeister zur Zeit des jungen Beethoven”, reveals that in the State Archives of Düsseldorf, which now house various documents originating from Bonn, there is an announcement of a performance in the palace of the prince elector of Cologne: On Maundy Thursday after 6 o’clock the oratorio “La Passione di Gesù Cristo” will be sung at the Holy Sepulcher in the Court”. Thanks to the studies of Henseler and of Claudia Valder-Knechtges (1983), we can now attribute this oratorio to the Kapellmeister of the Principate of Cologne and Bonn: Andrea Luchesi. T.A. Henseler does not dwell on this compostion, nor mention its Metastasian origins, and on the basis on the roles designated by Luchesi, he believes that “La Passione di Gesù Christo. Oratorio” had already been created in Venice prior to 1771 for one of the female “Ospedali”. Roberto Zanetti (1977) also notes the existence of an undated composition by Luchesi called “Passione di Giesù Cristo”. Yet the few surviving documents tend to exclude a Venetian origin for this work and instead give credit to the date of 1776 suggested by Claudia Valder-Knechtges in her study of the sacred works of Andrea Luchesi (Die Kirchenmusik A. Luchesis 1983). In April 1777, having completed his trial period of three years (during which time the new Kapellmeister may be fired without specific cause), Luchesi was named Kapellmeister “for life”. After May 1774, when he agreed to remain in Bonn with the guarantee of this lifetime nomination (the acceptance of which required that he become a naturalized subject of the prince of Cologne), he married Anthonetta Josepha d’Anthoin, the daughter of the most influential secret adviser of the prince (February 1775). He also strengthened the chapel (which had become one of the best in Germany), and built up the sacred repertoire to match the importance of the electoral principate of Cologne/Bonn. At the beginning of 1776, the chapel began to commission original sacred works (often composed exclusively by the Kapellmeister) for each event of the liturgical year. Luchesi intended to give public demonstrations of the results achieved in the chapel, and thus was born La Passione di Gesù Cristo, created exclusively for the chapel of the prince of Cologne. For this composition of non-liturgical sacred music, Luchesi reworked and set to music a complex libretto by the Cesarean Poet Metastasio, which had previously been used by other famous composers.