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.
When the diva is a mezzo Romantic opera brought at the centre of the stage sopranos, heroines of every love drama composed by Bellini to Donizetti to Puccini passing through Verdi. Mezzo-sopranos in those days played somehow the part of “Cinderella”, before the meeting with the fairy Godmother. Relegated mostly to a secondary role, they were seldom able to share the popularity and admiration granted to the leading sopranos of their time. Ebe Stignani, one of the most beautiful voices of the last century Take for example Ebe Stignani. Not many know her or who she was, yet she was one of the most beautiful voices and of the finest musicians of the last century. Ebe Stignani and Maria Callas Stignani was a main star at the Teatro Alla Scala while Maria Callas was just starting her cooperation with the Milan stage. Those were Callas’ difficult first years at La Scala, where she debuted in 1950 as a replacement to Renata Tebaldi in Aida. There was certainly a pre-established criticism if not hostility and even a lack of interest for Callas’ vocal talents, that kept growing till 1953 when, after a Norma with Stignani, the Greek soprano left Italy to return […]
The Neapolitan school and the trumph of the classical style Domenico Cimarosa’s successes are a prove of the fact that the revolutionary charge of Mozart’s operas wasn’t fully understood by his contemporaries. The secret marriage is regarded as the masterpiece of the comic Neapolitan School and has been almost constantly performed since its composition; yet its characters don’t have a naturalness or a psychological definition comparable to that of Mozart’s. An unmatched reputation as a composer Cimarosa was however the best of his time for his ability of setting into fine music ordinary-life stories. He gave voice to real people with their passions and anxieties, reveiling their true heart. Through the refined melodies of his arias, his characters describe their actions and emotions with freshness and effectiveness. Cimarosa wrote a total of 99 operas filled with delightful pages, graceful melodies and funny and profoundly human characters. In the last years of his life and before Rossini became famous, his reputation as a composer was unmatched. Cimarosa, a brief biography Domenico Cimarosa was born in Aversa, nearby Caserta on the 17th December 1749. Just a few days after his birth his family moved to Naples, as his father was hired for the construction of […]