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.
Pergolesi’s first opera “La Salustia” is filled with emotions and dramatic elements. It portrays the battle of two women, their struggle for power and justice. Further, it is the story of failing deceitful plots and mistrust. Young French director Juliette Deschamps, known for various opera productions in Jesi, made the old story come alive on a stage that suggests an ancient palace with large windows, later on the coliseum. The cast features well-loved Pergolesi interpreters such as Serena Malfi, Laura Polverelli or Vittorio Prato. The Accademia Barocca de I Musici Italiani, well-known for productions in historic performance practice, are led by Corrado Rovaris.
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
Jochen Kowalski is one of the most charismatic and successful male altos of our time and has built up an unusually and wide-ranging and extensive repertoire. It is the dramatic quality of his voice which makes it special.
The first complete and unabridged recording of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s operatic masterpiece, as well as the world-premiere recording on period instruments, undertaken by the critically acclaimed 2010 production from the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music, known as the “Bayreuth of Baroque Opera”. In his all too brief career Pergolesi, who died in 1736 aged only 26, set the course for 18th century opera. His works, especially L’Olimpiade, which was first performed in 1735, introduced a new and sentimental tone to the opera stage. Based on one of the most popular subject matters of opera seria, Pergolesi’s masterpiece L’Olimpiade offers a drama of love and intrigue coupled with highly virtuoso singing. Presenting Italian conductor Alessandro de Marchi, one of the most sought-after Early Music specialists, and a stunning cast of top-league international Baroque singers.
The world has not yet fully discovered the riches of the impressive music libraries and archives of Portugal. They testify to the often complex trajectories followed all over Europe by a repertoire of splendid pieces, many of them showing the extent to which the Italian style had taken root in eighteenth-century Portugal. The superb mass by Pergolesi recorded here is a highly characteristic example. But the ensemble Turicum wanted to go even further in their exploration of this repertoire, accompanying the mass with performances of works by composers now totally (and unjustly) unknown, such as Antonio Gallassi and David Perez, not to mention Leonardo leo, acknowledged in his own time as a supreme master of sacred music.
This Septem verba a Christo in cruce moriente proloata (The Seven Words of the Dying Christ on the Cross) was rediscovered nearly a century ago, and scholars down through the years have reached differing conclusions as to whether or not the work was really by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, as one manuscript claimed. More and more copies surfaced, and finally the discovery by musicologist Reinhard Fehling of a new set of parts at an Austrian monastery in 2009 showed that the work was at the very least popular over a good part of Europe, and the forces represented here gave the work its modern-day premiere performance and first recording. You can see why some were skeptical of Pergolesi's authorship, for it doesn't sound much like his more famous Stabat Mater or like anything by anybody else, either. The closest parallel would be Bach's so-called dialogue cantatas, with soloists representing Christ and the soul. The work is Bachian in another way, too, with a set of hidden symmetries and apparent meanings outlined in the album notes. It consists of seven aria pairs, with a few of the arias prefaced by accompanied recitatives. Each of the pairs represents one of the seven last words of Christ on the cross, with Christ (a bass in all cases except for the second "word," where he is a tenor) setting out the basic meaning and the Soul (a soprano, alto, or tenor) providing a kind of emotional reaction that is closely related, both musically and conceptually, to Christ's aria. It's thus a tightly constructed, rather intellectual piece, atypical of Pergolesi. The orchestral writing, featuring horns, trumpet, harp, and lute, is also unlike anything else in Pergolesi's oeuvre. But the work is successful on its own terms, and it receives a fine performance here from conductor René Jacobs, the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, and an impressive quartet of soloists. This odd piece isn't going to displace the Stabat Mater from the top rank of Pergolesi's work, but it adds substantially to the picture of his genius.(James Manheim )