128. La serva padrona (Pergolesi)

Intermezzo in 2 partsComposer: Giovanni Battista PergolesiLibretto: Gennarantonio FedericoFirst performed: Teatro San Bartolomeo, Naples, 28 August 1733 For a comic interlude of 45 minutes, La serva padrona carries a lot of weight on her slim shoulders.  She’s the ancestrix of both the Italian opera buffa and the French opéra comique. The wily maidservant Serpina (little … Continue reading 128. La serva padrona (Pergolesi)

127. Germanico in Germania (Porpora)

Dramma per musica in 3 actsComposer: Nicola PorporaLibretto: Nicola ColuzziFirst performed: Teatro Capricana, Rome, 11 February 1732 Nicola Porpora was a master of writing for the human voice. In his day, he was one of Italy’s foremost singing teachers; his pupils at the Conservatorio di Sant’Onofrio, Naples, included the castrati Farinelli and Caffarelli (who studied … Continue reading 127. Germanico in Germania (Porpora)

126. Catone in Utica (Vinci)

Opera seria in 3 actsComposer: Leonardo VinciLibretto: Pietro MetastasioFirst performed: Teatro Alibert, Rome, 19 January 1728 A Roman triumph!  Decca’s 2015 recording (conductor Riccardo Minasi, with Il Pomo d’Oro) of this Caesarian opera seria has some of the most extraordinary singing I’ve ever heard.  Veni, audivi, Vinci, one might say. Catone in Utica was Leonardo … Continue reading 126. Catone in Utica (Vinci)

A note on Metastasio

The 18th century has been called the age of Metastasio. The Roman poet's 27 libretti were set more than 800 times, and used as late as the 19th century, including by Meyerbeer (Semiramide riconosciuta, 1819) and Mercadante (Didone abbandonata, 1823).  The most famous Metastasian opera today is Mozart’s Clemenza di Tito. Born Pietro Trapassi, 1698–1782; … Continue reading A note on Metastasio

124. Orlando furioso (Vivaldi)

Dramma per musico in 3 actsComposer: Antonio VivaldiLibretto: Grazio Braccioli, after Ariosto's Orlando FuriosoFirst performed: Teatro Sant'Angelo, Venice, autumn 1727 Vivaldi, like his wicked sorceress Alcina, enchants the senses, then lures us into a queasily erotic nightmare of the sort we associate more with Richard Strauss than opera seria. Gustave Doré's depiction of Alcina The … Continue reading 124. Orlando furioso (Vivaldi)

120. L’incoronazione di Dario (Vivaldi)

Dramma per musica in 3 acts Composer: Antonio Vivaldi Libretto: Adriano Morselli First performed: Teatro Sant'Angelo, Venice, 23 January 1717 A simple word association test: Vivaldi ... Anyone not think of the Four Seasons? Vivaldi was, though, more than just an instrumental composer; he was a priest (his severe asthma forced him to leave the … Continue reading 120. L’incoronazione di Dario (Vivaldi)