The Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini, which has been devoting itself to the research and performance of Pergolesi‘s music for years now, had his operas recorded live at the annual Music Festival in Jesi. Released on this BD are two productions from Jesi of one almost forgotten opera, Il prigionier superbo, and one of Pergolesi’s most popular works, La serva padrona, combined like they were at the original premiere.
Il Prigionier Superbo is a three-act opera seria with six characters — two kings, two princes, two princesses. La Serva Padrona is a two-part comic intermezzo with two singing characters — master and servant. It was performed between Prigionier's acts when they bowed in 1733, as Naples theaters reopened after earthquake-forced closure. Prigionier vanished from the stage, but Serva Padrona grew popular, helped establish opera buffaand helped start a pamphlet war between Italian and French opera supporters in Paris… MARK MANDEL
The characters move in a musical setting which is perhaps less revolutionary than Pergolesi's had been, the scenic action moves at a slower pace, with longer arias. Pergolesi's means are certainly more limited than Paisiello's, his vocal styles more essential and specific — his Uberto is more desperate and his Serpina craftier, while in Paisiello's opera the characters take on a more worldly and fugy-rounded form. In Paisiello's work Uberto and Serpina sing with greater awareness of the fact that they are actors in an institutionalised theatre, and their arias could at times belong to a different text, as for example the splendid 'Donne Vaghe' with which Serpina opens the second act or the delightful duet 'Donne infeste', whose music sounds more like an act of love than the celebration of deep disagreement. These two episodes, whose pertinence to the development of the plot is quite questionable, do not appear in Pergolesi's text.