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)

121. La verità in cimento (Vivaldi)

Opera in 3 acts Composer: Antonio Vivaldi Libretto: Giovanni Palazzi First performed: Teatro Sant’Angelo, Venice, Autumn 1720   The sultan Mahmoud’s wife Rustena and his mistress Damira each give birth on the same day.  The concubine, with the sultan’s knowledge, swaps her baby with the queen’s; both women bring up the wrong child as their … Continue reading 121. La verità in cimento (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)

103. Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Monteverdi)

Composer: Claudio Monteverdi Libretto: Giacomo Baodaro First performed: Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, 1639–1640 Carnival season Il ritorno d'Ulisse is rather like a Shakespearean Romance: a part-melancholic, part-comic story of gods, castaways, shipwrecks, transformations, perilous voyages, and disguises, which ends, after many years, with a family reunited. Based on Homer’s Odyssey, the opera tells of the hero’s … Continue reading 103. Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Monteverdi)

79. La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina (Francesca Caccini)

LA LIBERAZIONE DI RUGGIERO DALL’ISOLA D’ALCINA Commedia in musica: Prologue and 4 scenes Composer: Francesca Caccini Libretto: Ferdinando Saracinelli, based on Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso First performed: Villa di Poggio Imperiale, Florence, 3 February 1625 Dossier COMMENTARY This morning, we talked about the first opera written by a non-white / non-European: Carlos Gomes' Il Guarany. Here's the first opera … Continue reading 79. La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina (Francesca Caccini)