Sunday, 5 December 2010

Pergolesi Spring Festival - Jesi 2010

Two operas by Pergolesi from the Pergolesi Spring Festival 2010 in Jesi (near Ancona), performed by Accademia Bizantina under Ottavio Dantone: Adriano in Siria and Il Flaminio:

Concert given 10th June 2010 at the Teatro Pergolesi, Jesi:
Dramma per musica in tre atti
libretto by Pietro Metastasio
music by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710 - 1736)
First performed at the Teatro San Bartolomeo, Naples, 1734

Adriano: Marina Comparato
Sabina: Nicole Heaston
Osroa: Stefano Ferrari
Emirena: Lucia Cirillo
Farnaspe: Anna Maria Dell'Oste
Aquilio: Francesca Lombardi
Accademia Bizantina
conducted by Ottavio Dantone

The second work in the programme of the Pergolesi Spring Festival, part of the Jesi Festival, forming part of the celebration of the tercentenary of the birth of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi in Jesi, promoted and organised by the Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini, a cultural production and distribution organisation founded in Jesi in 2000, under the patronage of the Office of the Italian Prime Minister, and which is programming the performance of the complete works of the composer. As was the case in 18th century Naples, between the first and second acts of Adriano in Siria, the festival programmed the same intermezzo staged at the premier in 1734, namely Livietta e Tracollo, on a libretto by Tommaso Mariani.

For Adriano in Siria the production at the 2007 Pergolesi Spontini Festival, directed by Ignaco Garcia, has been revived, with the set by Zulima Memba, and new costumes by Patricia Toffolutti. The production of Livietta e Tracollo on the other hand is new, being staged for the first time under the auspices of the Pergolesi Festival. The performance was entrusted to one of the most acclaimed Italian baroque ensembles, Accademia Bizantina directed by Ottavio Dantone, whose performance of Il Flaminio, which opened this year's festival, was also warmly applauded.

The third of four opere serie composed by Pergolesi, Adriano in Silla was premiered in Naples at the Teatro San Bartolomeo on 25th October 1734, two years before the Jesi composer's untimely death. Written for the occasion of the birthday of Queen Elisabetta Farnese, mother of the new ruler of the Kingdom of Naples, the 18 year old Charles III de Bourbon, to whom the work is dedicated, Adriano in Siria, in its music and in its accomplished libretto, highlights, through the characters of the opera, the moral and political virtues attributed to the sovereign, identified with the person of Charles III.

The star of the premiere of the work in Naples was one of the most famous castrato singers in all of Europe, Gaetano Majorano (1710-1783), better known as Caffarelli, who took the lead male role of Farnaspe. The plot of the opera is loosely based on legends about the life of the Roman Emperor Hadrian; Metastasio wrote the libretto in 1732, taking his ideas and some dialogues from French authors preceding him (Racine, Quinault and Corneille), but mainly from the libretto of Alessandro Severo by Apostolo Zeno.

Livietta e Tracollo was a success throughout Europe thanks to the travels of the singers who added it to their repertoire: after 1743 it was performed in, amongst other places, Hamburg, Prague, Leipzig, Dresden, Madrid, Vienna, Brunswick, Paris, Barcelona and Copenhagen. Livietta e Tracollo returns to the theme of travesty, language games, colloquialisms and slapstick comedy. Tracallo, a thief of the worst sort, tries in vain to cheat Livietta, appearing in disquise, and is quickly exposed by the smart girl. Eventually, notwithstanding the utter implausibility of the plot, the two swear eternal love...

The Spanish director Ignacio Garcia explains his direction thus: "Adriano in Siria is the story of a man and an emperor who believes in war, captivity and destruction as a means of achieving a more just and harmonious world. But our hero discovers that on the battlefield there are no winners or losers, only victims. Amid the ruins of the civilised world, the characters take refuge in love, desire, and the excitement of emotions in order to feel alive and to forget the anguish that engulfs everything, expressed in the marvellously profound and psychologically complex music of Pergolesi."

"Livietta e Tracollo, the intermezzo, is a clear example of how theatrical conventions, the style of recitative, the philosophical depth of the drama and the characters change radically from opera seria to intermezzo. The characters of the intermezzo look at those of the opera seria with the distance of observers of a remote, fantastical tale, and send up their obsessions: honour, true love or fidelity. Deception and self-deprecation are among the 'cornerstones' of modernity. Comedy and drama are two different points of view, two ways of seeing human nature, looking down from on high as at an amusing flea, or from the bottom up as at a mighty giant. Different points of view, but both looking at the same human being."

Concert given 4th June, 2010 at the Teatro Moriconi, Jesi
Commedia per musica in tre atti
libretto by Federico Gennarantonio
music by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
First performed at the Teatro Nuovo, Naples, 1735

Polidoro: Juan Francisco Gatell
Flaminio: Laura Polverelli
Giustina: Marina De Liso
Agata: Sonia Yoncheva
Ferdinando: Serena Malfi
Checca: Laura Cherici
Vastiano: Vito Priante

Accademia Bizantina
conducted by Ottavio Dantone

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