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Long-lost Vivaldi opera to premiere in Germany

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Dusseldorf (dpa) - An opera presumed lost when Antonio Vivaldi died 265 years ago is to have a controversial premiere on a German stage Wednesday after a legal battle over the rediscovered score.

"Motezuma" was last performed in Venice in 1733 and is believed to be the first baroque opera with an American theme: the Aztec emperor Montezuma. The score belongs to a Berlin library, the Sing-Akademie, which published it on the Internet and asserted copyright.

Initially judges agreed, but later an appeal court cancelled an injunction against the performance in a former factory as part of the Altstadtherbst cultural festival in the western city of Dusseldorf.

The score was reconstructed from the Berlin manuscript and other fragments. Its modern premiere took place in the Dutch city of Rotterdam in June, reportedly after the Sing-Akademie obtained a fee - making the opera's German debut especially controversial.

The music world has been in uproar over the notion that anyone can charge fees in place of composer Vivaldi.

The Sing-Akademie says it only wanted to reserve the 21st century premiere of the precious work for one of Europe's most prestigious opera houses, not in an old factory. The manuscript was in a dusty heap of papers captured by the Soviets in the Second World War and was only recently returned to Berlin from the Ukraine capital Kiev.

Venetian composer Vivaldi (1678-1741) wrote operas and is best known today for his Four Seasons concertos. Motezuma was first staged in 1733 but was not published while Vivaldi was alive and the manuscript was thought lost.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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