Oedipe A Colone by Antonio Sacchini

OedipeColone by Antonio Sacchini
            Story by Scott A. Gamble   (Jan 1996)

Gamble Music Production and Archive video 1 and 2 tell of this amazing story. With color detail.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-xZAM5gNGI   (video 1)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evRlTRzvnoE  (video 2)

I've always heard the colloquialism that those who have gone on
before us may try to reach us or communicate to us from the dead.
Now, I grant you that sounds a bit morbid but this is a story
about a composer that died a tragic death and I say tragic
because the composer Antonio Sacchini never heard his last opera,
the one this story is about, staged professionally. Also it is a
story about my, what seemed to be a "never ending story" of
research that brought the opera alive again after some 210 years
of being dormant.  The opera is "Oedipe A Colone" or "Edipo A
Colono" by Antonio Sacchini.
I had gone to Columbia, Alabama to help my sister hang shelves in
her new home and while putting up the shelves I had on the radio,
like I tried to do every Saturday afternoon while I was listening
to the Met or to World of Opera.
Classical music is my passion but listening to the opera was new
to me, at that time and it seemed to be more like a hobby within
a hobby as I concentrated on it a little more than say classical
music, also since I really didn't know much about opera I wanted
to expand my knowledge about it. I called opera my hobby and
collecting classical and more over baroque music, my obsession.
There was a growing emotional craving for this new art of mixing
music and drama together however and I'd only experienced the
emotions once before and that was from learning and hearing
baroque music.  Enough rambling.  Now, while listening to The
World of Opera that afternoon in July in 1993, something came
over me and I found myself not working and listening but sitting
on the floor, by the radio, listening to this most charming opera
I'd ever heard. The opera was being broadcasted by WTSU from Troy
State University.  The clarity of the music was extraordinarily
wonderful and crisp.  It was a sunny day, that July 17th and
there was not a bit of interference in the radio.  Before I knew
it three hours had lapsed and the opera was over. Before Bruce
Scott (Host of National Public Radio, "The World of Opera") had
announced what it was that we had just listened to, I had pencil
and paper in hand and attempted to write down what the opera was.
I say again "attempted" because I was not that well versed in
opera and my spelling of composer's names and writing titles of
operas was not my forte. My friend Allen Swafford had coached me in what
opera was and made me remember several important composers, but
this was indeed different because I'd never heard of this opera,
nor the composer.  I called WTSU, that following Monday and asked
what was the title of the opera that they had aired on Saturday
and who was the composer. I was given limited information and
found myself calling Bruce Scott at National Public Radio in
Washington, D.C.  He told me that my spelling was indeed wrong
and the composer's name was Sacchini and the name of the opera
was "Edipo a Colono".  I thought that it would be so easy to get
a copy of this opera on compact disk or for that fact, if nothing
else, I could get it on LP.  WRONG.  It was after consulting the
record companies that I dealt with on a regular basis and being
told "No" or "No that is not available" so many times and
moreover I guessed what really made me angry was when the person
went to look up information about the composer, to see if there
was anything other music that he (Antonio Sacchini) might be
credited for, they'd come back and say "Antonio who..." I'd just
hang up in their face from being disgusted.  Once, I was told to
try specialty record stores, retail discount record outlets,
wholesale record distributors, Close-out record outlets and I
knew that there was going to be a long research as I called from
one specialty store to another, from East to West coast and was
told "NO, it is not available". I got turned down by everyone one
of them and then I knew that taking NO for an answer, just would
not get it.  My persistence and determination was going to
dominate over the next two and a half years.  I had several
conversations with my friends about the researching and Allen
told me to try calling Opera Magazine that perhaps they could
supply some information.  Tom suggested that I call OPERA another
magazine in England.
For your enjoyment the listing in the WTSU program guide was
listed as such:    12:30  The NPR World Of Opera
                   Sacchini: "Oedipe a Colonne." (Vanaud/Millot/
                   Viala/Delunsch/Orchestral Ensemble of Paris/
This was the only information that I had to go by for the first
two weeks of the research.  My next step was to check with the
people to whom are supposed to know a great deal about opera The
Metropolitan Opera in New York. I went from salesperson to store
manager to office manager and then finally to the research
department of the Met. After being rejected of information some
seven to ten times I knew that this was going to be a tough
battle. Once Yvonne Rodriguez (Montgomery Youth Symphony
Orchestra Music Director) told me "Scott, if it exists then it is
out there". I will never forget those words and I believe that
those words impacted in the back of my thought process helped me
press on to find this opera.  You maybe asking yourself what was
he after ?  The answer to that is simple.  I believe that once
there is a musical reverberation in your mind then there is only
one thing left, to own the opera.  On cassette, LP, compact disk,
reel to reel, which I did not own, whatever medium it was on, was
fine to me, I would find someone to loan me the device to play
it. Just to hear it again and own it was my drive. As I went from
Alabama State University, which has the best Music Index in the
City of Montgomery, to Huntingdon College which has the next
best, finally to the other large colleges in Montgomery, Auburn,
Opelika and the other surrounding cities, I found myself
concentrating all my free time on this opera and nothing else
mattered to me.  It was an obsession that had complete control on
my life but the fixation of this opera was there and there was no
way to release it from my mind.  The only way to release it was
to find it. Any words about Antonio Sacchini or his works was and
still is, for that fact, very important to me and I feasted off
every word read or told to me. I had spent some three or four
weeks researching before I called back to the Met. I had told
them the story about spending so much time on the research and
practically begged them for help.  There was a girl by the name
of Yvonne at the Met Opera Gift Shop and she was a student of
voice in New York and went out of her way to do some research for
me.  She came up with information about a three album set of the
opera that was cut in 1979 and I was ecstatic.  The 3 LP set was
numbered MRF 153S and it was cut in Paris. She had gotten that
information from the O.C.L.C. interlink computer system used by
libraries of general information or even special collections.
That is all the information she had and suggested that I try a
few of the specialty record stores, retail discount record
outlets, wholesale record distributors, Close-out record outlets
(sound familiar ?) in New York and she had a few for me to try.
I called all of them and they gave me no additional information.
I was heart broken to know it was available at one time and I
couldn't get my hands on a copy.  I had remembered from
researching other projects that the Library of Congress would be
a great place to try, so I did. I asked there if they had any
information about Sacchini or about the record set MRF 153S ? No
additional information. I tried Kalmus a sheet music distributor,
when you can't find it anywhere else, in Boca Raton, Fl. and to
my surprise they had sheet music for the overture. Now I was
getting somewhere.  One morning I had a returned call from Dr.
Glass at Huntingdon College, here in Montgomery, and he said you
will not believe this but I have found the overture to the opera.
I almost passed out.  I asked him could I get a copy of it and
did. It was a most cherished possession.  I remember calling back
to H&B recording outlet in San Antonio, Texas and asking again to
someone who had been there awhile about anything being available
about Antonio Sacchini and to my wondrous surprise again I was
told of a compact disk available "The Quartet for Strings" that
was available.  I was so happy to have heard this and it was
information that I had already tried to get prior.  It was not
the opera but as you may know, music reflects a signature of a
composer. I say that because I have just received the gift of
being able, at times, to name the composer, by a music that I
hear. On the same token, you may hear a piece of music and it be
similar to other works he or she may have written. So, I guess, I
am saying that "Quartet for Strings" by Antonio Sacchini had some
similarities to the opera "Oedipe a Colone". While continuing my
research I stumbled upon a lady at Boston University, I'll call
her Holly and she helped get in contact with a association, in
which I later became a part of called The Association for
Recorded Sound Collections. She suggested that I call the
president that perhaps he could help, as the group was filled
with people like myself who were very interested in classical
music, opera, early pop, etc. and she thought certainly there
would be someone there that I may have not contacted yet. That
call lead to calling Gary Thal who is a private collector of
opera in California and he offered no additional information
after speaking to him for some hour or longer. He did have me
contact Rose Records again and Virgin Records again and this time
to talk to, and he gave me their name, promising that I'd never
tell them who had me call, that those people would be in charge
of buying old stock and out of date stock. NO LUCK.  From there I
went to different people who were private collectors and those
names I will leave out of this story, as they have asked me to
keep their names confidential.  From one collector to another I
was turned down and my telephone bill was totaling about $150.00
and that was within the first year of the research. Determination
and persistence was still my will power and I never gave up hope
that there was in fact still physical existence of it somewhere.
I was always at an obstacle but never a check mate, to coin a
phrase. I was always asking my friends for help as they were the
ones basically who were asking me had I heard any word.  I had
several friends working on the RESEARCH but I think Allen helped
me most with the investigation as it was he who told me of a
company called RICORDI and they since they were the distributor
for Italian music and French music, they perhaps would be able to
stir me in the right direction. We knew that the music was French
but might be distributed by a Italian music distributor.
The call was made to them and that failed as did calling Boosey
and Hawkes another music distributor. In November of 1994, now a
year and four months and still no help from any outside sources,
I called Opera News, an opera magazine in New York. I remember my
conversation very well that one morning to Loraine Rosenfeld I
told her basically the same story you've read thus far and she
told me that she'd check with her back issue department and see
if she had any information on Antonio Sacchini or for that fact
the opera "Edipo a Colone".  She saw the enthusiasm in my voice
and had some sympathy and too the timing was just right for this
to have happened, a Mrs. Phillips Matz was in her office and
Loraine allowed me to speak to her. I say "allowed" because I
don't think that I was supposed to speak to her in the first
place as she was Editor of Opera the magazine in England.  Mrs.
 Phillips Matz has an apartment in New York City and while she is
in the States she lives there.  I told her my never ending story,
condensed it the best way I could and begged her help.  She
sympathized with me as she, being a baroque musicologist, knew
there was limited information about Antonio Sacchini and also she
knew that if in fact I was searching for one of his operas that
it would be a losing battle.  She however told me, just down from
her "flat" was the New York Performing Arts Library she would go
there and do some research for me as she knew that my resources
were limited here. I waited about a week, called her back again,
waited about another week and she called the house with the most
wonderful news imaginable.  Mrs. Phillips - Matz found out that
through the New York Performing Arts Library that there existed a
special collections in the dance and music department. In the
Music Department she found out that there was in fact a 1786
libretto of "Edipo A Colone" by Antonio Sacchini.  I was
ecstatic, yet I knew that for me to have the original libretto
would be outrageous. I couldn't afford the libretto nor could I
afford a copy of such a rarity.  Once I found out that the
libretto could not be copied, I was crushed. I made arrangements
however to have an archival type printer copy of each page. That
is where they somehow take a picture of each page. I was assuming
that the cost would only be 10 or 20 dollars but when I was told
that the cost was $2.00 a page and there was 50 pages I went
berserk. I couldn't see me paying that much for the libretto and
yet I wanted it so very much.  The total bill as you've already
guessed was right at $120.00.
Once I received my copy of the original libretto of "Edipo A
Colone" by Antonio Sacchini and read on the front "Spectacles
 representesdevant Leurs Majestes a Versailles et Fontainebleau
pendant l'annee 1786" and "I saw that the publisher was P.R.C.
Ballard / 1786" I knew then that I had finally received something
that showed physical existence of the opera.  I showed all my
friends the libretto and they were all impressed.  During all
this time there were several other things going on like who to
contact to get a copy of the opera on tape or compact disk or
whatever.  I contacted NPR "World of Opera" one morning in
December vowing to myself that 1995 would be the year that I
receive the opera on something, that I might play it back and
listen to it once again.  I called NPR, speaking to someone else
besides Bruce Scott, that offered me information the last time.
My thoughts were that someone else would offer me information as
he didn't really seem like he wanted to offer much information
the last time I talked to him. You can just tell if someone wants
to give you information freely or not.  Once I got someone, I'll
leave his name "anonymous" at this point and tell you that he
said he had a copy of the opera, that he was looking right at it
and had it in his hands.  This was after I had told him that I
had been looking for the opera for some year and a half and told
him also the same story you've read thus far.  Once he told me
that NPR had that copy of "Edipo A Colone" and I knew it was in
Washington D.C. I was willing to do almost anything I had to do
to get a copy of it.  I had the man, have Bruce Scott contact me
in Montgomery, which he did and when he told me that I wasn't
supposed to have known that the copy was still there after some
year and a half I knew I was going to get a copy of the opera. It
might not have been the right way to have gone about getting it
but by stars I was going to have a copy of it. I told Bruce that
the college I was affiliated with was Huntingdon College in
Montgomery and somehow perhaps, if nothing else that NPR maybe
would put it out on loan somehow to the college, if he didn't
feel comfortable sending it to an individual. When he told me NO
that there was not anyway possible to let me or a college have
it. I was irate. I almost was at a point of black mail and found
myself, once he told me that it was against EBU (European
Broadcasting Union) to make a copy of it in any way and that it
was to have been destroyed once it aired back in July of 1993. So
I simply said if you don't make me a copy of the opera I will
contact the EBU and tell them that you still have your copy of
the opera that it was not yet destroyed some year and a half
later. He told me that would not do any good did I want to be
helped or did I want to black mail him ? I asked for his help and
he gave me the address and a contact person at Radio France in
Paris. It was at this time that I contacted all my friends once
again and none of them had any suggestions except for Allen. He
suggested that I contact the French Embassy in Washington that
perhaps they might be able to help with maybe even writing the
letter for me. NO I was stubborn and meant I was going to do this
on my own.  My first of 15 letters sent to Direction Des Affaires
 Internationlesc/o Mile Catherine Nicolle / Sociaete Radio France
116 Ave Du President Kennedy / F©75786 / Paris, Cadex 16
was never returned as about three weeks passed before I was told
by Allen, again to contact the French Embassy in Washington. I
guess it was my third letter that seemed like it got lost between
Montgomery, Alabama and Paris, France that I called the French
Embassy.  I spoke to their Cultural Arts Department and asked
Leslie Ferrell (who was in charge of that department) to write
the letter for me and told her the story up to this point.  She
did. Letters seemed like they were leaving out to other parts of
the United States and the world at this time too.  I'd just
become part of the Association for Recorded Sound Collection
which is a group of people interested in Classical, Baroque,
Opera and other types of music. Becoming a member allows you to
have a directory of all the international members. I used it to
the fullest.  Writing anyone that I thought might be closely
related to opera music. I even had one of my friends go internet
through America on Line to see if perhaps there was someone out
there to know where I could get a copy of the opera. Mr. Smith at
the Free Library of Philadelphia was another contact. They have
several thousand pieces in their special collection. NO LUCK.
On April 20, 1995 I received my first letter back from Radio
France honoring my request for a copy of "Edipo A Colone" all I
had to do was to send them a statement back in letter form saying
whether or not I did or didn't want a non professional copy of
the tape that it would not be possible to put it on digital audio
tape.  I wrote back the same hour I received the letter saying I
didn't care if it was on used cassette tape as long as it would
play.  Those were not my exact words but you catch the jest. Once
that letter was gone I was a peace.  Now just to receive it
through the mail and to play it would be complete serenity.  The
letters were written to me in French and this story would not be
complete if I did not mention the help of Dr. Glass and Nina
Orlando at Huntingdon, as it was their trustworthy contribution
that allowed me to finally get the opera. The story is not
altogether complete however.  I waited some 10 weeks after my
last letter was sent and no word from Radio France did I receive.
I called again the French Embassy and asked, pleaded with Leslie
Ferrell to send another letter to them requesting a non
professional tape, that I had in fact sent the letter back as
instructed, as a matter of fact the very same day I received the
letter and it had been 10 weeks of waiting. Leslie Ferrell sent
me a fax of all the members of the Ensemble de Paris (That is the
orchestra that performed this wonderful opera). I had researched
them as well but it was when she sent me the information of
conductor, administration director and finally Director of
Programming, giving me telephone numbers and fax numbers, I began
calling again.  On June 14th 1995 almost two years after hearing
the opera EdipoColone by Antonio Sacchini, I received a call
that morning at 11:50 and Benoit Braescu from Paris, France. He
told me that he was in charge of Programming Coordination but he
could not offer me any more information, other than what I had
already, that he was not around in 1980 when this particular
piece was played at the Montpellier Festival and that he didn't
know who to contact. He told me that the music however that was
played at the Montpellier was distributed by RAI.
He didn't give me any other information but that. I researched
RAI. I asked everyone that had anything to do with music and
found that it was for Radio / Television Italian and it was a
distributor for music, both sheet and play back music.  I had
gotten up out of bed several mornings at 1 and 2 to call Italy
and ask members of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections
if they had it on cassette or for that fact any type medium. I
also called Nuova Fonit Cetra in Milan, Italy as I found out that
they were the distributor for music in Italy that wrote and
structured the music for Ensemble de Paris. Some months passed
and I received a letter from Radio France declining my request
for the opera on tape as she told in her letter it just couldn't
be done.  I usually pray to God for things that I really need but
this was worth praying for. I thought I was about to go crazy and
it was then I prayed for some sign of good hope as I had spent so
much time and money on this and it was getting no where.  My
prayers came true.  I went over all my notes, which not
exaggerating stacked up to about 4 inches on my desk. I went
through everything again. Every note, letter or fax.
I woke up that morning August the 22nd and called the Library of
Congress as I had done back in July of 1993, the man that I had
spoke to back in 1993 had died recently and I spoke to someone
else in the Research of Archives Music Department. Mr. Parsons
came to the phone and I asked him to look up the following
information for me, I told him the above story and gave him the
numbers of the three record set that the girl gave me some two
and a half years prior. MFR-153S. When he said "Edipo A Colone"
by Antonio Sacchini, I almost cried. I screamed "and you say you
know who has a copy of it in the United States" ?
I contacted the University of North Carolina and spoke to Sara
 McClesky and told her every detail of what I had been through. I
asked her to please see what she could do to get me a copy of the
opera. She confirmed having the opera in their Special
Collections and told me that the only way I could get a copy
would be to come to North Carolina, to Chapel Hill and she'd be
glad to release it from their Special Collections long enough for
me to make a copy.  I asked her wasn't there any way possible to
release it to say a college on an inner library loan ?
She said that she would have to think about the situation and I
told her I'd have Dr. Glass contact her to confirm my research
and what it meant to me in getting a copy.  She submitted and
after contacting Dr. Glass and he calling her it was done. Mrs.
McClesky sent it to Huntingdon and Mrs. Nordis Smith contacted me
at home on September 12th 1995 and told me the opera was in. On
September 13th I picked up the opera from the library thanking
everyone affiliated and Dr. Glass and Nina could be at peace on
again for me not bothering them again. The opera is beautiful
more beautiful than any other opera I've heard to date and if
anyone has a new opera that is as special I will always love this
As I was in the sound studio recording from album to cassette, Dr. Glass
came in the studio and listened to the opera. Himself being a lover
of opera said "oh my goodness how beautiful" and I knew then he too
 was hooked.
On Jan. 19th 1996, during a special night of opera music Dr. James
brought to life after 210 years of being dormant, Oedipe A Colone. I approached 
Daniel McLaughlin and Carrie Prewitt after James Glass had told me who were the 
Oedipus and Antigone. I explained that I was very passionate about this opera and
I was so proud to have them sing this opera aria and I'd never forget them. So 
Daniel McLaughlin and Carrie Prewitt performed the arias flawlessly
and I thought for a brief moment Antonio Sacchini must have thanked
me just a little for sparking life into this beautiful opera.  Daniel and Carrie's pages can be found on this website and I am so very excited to have both attached to the sight because you see, I swore before God in front of both of them I'd find them and make them yet "famous" in my own way....and you know I will.

this is the original MFR-153 3 album set and to the right is the first page of the original libretto


So for Daniel his website is:  
and Carrie's website is:    
now a little about the both of them....first of all Daniel McLaughlin still sings professionally .
Carrie Prewitt taught voice lessons.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcR688CF_hw   (this is the entire opera) (at the beginning is a great example of the overture).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wlU81bSI3Y (a beautiful aria by Roberta Invernizzi) if you like this piece then sign the petition for the release of her Handel-Vivaldi album!http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/handel-vivaldi-album-with-roberta-inverni...

The great outcome is that I have two great copies of the The 3 LP set was numbered MRF 153S, I sell not the cd but the service to apply the 3 LP on to cd, the cd is free. Let me know if you'd like a set of the original.

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