Opera, until then the favourite entertainment of aristocracy and educated classes, was going to change radically as a consequence of the French revolution. In the three decades of the rise and fall of Napoleon, opera social function changed completely and irrevocably.
La Serva Padrona, composed on a libretto by Gennaro Antonio Federico in 1733, is an intermezzo divided into two interludes. It was originally designed to be performed between the acts of the opera seria Il prigioniero superbo by Pergolesi himself, staged at the Teatro San Bartolomeo in Naples on the occasion of the birthday of the empress Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick, wife of the emperor Charles VI and mother of the empress Marie Therese of Augsburg. That very same libretto had been used by almost every composer in Naples and therefore was already popular in a number of successful versions. The definition of believable characters and the solid realism of the short story, revolving almost entirely around the characters’ psychology made of the libretto a success. Pergolesi’s genius turned it into a masterpiece.
Everywhere in the world, Italian language is popular thanks to music; not just Opera but also pop hits such as Volare or Mamma. Common Italian words are increasingly used in other languages while notation on music scores is traditionally in Italian (piano, forte, crescendo, rallentando etc…). So much so that many Italian terms used for music are now truly international, representing a substantial part of the international Italian vocabulary.
The house has an unbeatable location. Situated halfway up the hill that gradually becomes mountain, the San Bartolo – the only high stretch of coast on the Adriatic sea along with Trieste and Ancona – it faces a large bay. A lush vegetation surrounds the white building from early spring to late autumn. During summer it provides a shelter from the heat of the blazing sun and also from the curious eyes of the bathers crowding the beach – mainly locals as this is not a trendy beach; it’s simply a nice place -. Vegetation could not, however, shield the sounds. So, in the years gone by, it was quite common for people lying on the beach – including me – to hear the Maestro’s powerful voice singing a piece or some musical charade. It was quite something!
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