The main difference between Opera and the previous polyphonic vocal music is the unique melodic line, resulting from the merging of bass and singing. In polyphonic music different vocal lines work independently, overlapping one another and making a text often incomprehensible. Opera instead offered a new way for making words expressive and intelligible, by creating a single melodic line, supported by an accompaniment.
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.
Verdi’s last opera Falstaff relates to Verdi’s late years when after the enormous success of Otello no one expected him to create yet another opera. A pleasant routine Verdi and Giuseppina had a pleasant life routine at that stage. They used to spend winters in Genoa; the beginning of spring in Milan attending music events; the end of spring and most part of summer in Sant’Agata, where the composer attended business such as the collection of rent payments, purchase of seeds, repairs, new buildings works. Yet his friend, librettist and composer Arrigo Boito noticed how much Verdi missed composing and for that reason started to insist in working together on something new, an opera that could end his career in an even better way than Otello, a “triumph with a laughter”. Triumph with a laughter The idea came out during a conversation between Boito and Verdi. By May 1889 Boito had already sketched the libretto from Shakespeare’s Henry IV (1597) and The Merry Wives of Windsor (1602). Verdi, who had considered a comic subject before, at that stage was worried for not being able to complete it: “What would happen if I won’t overcome my weakness…If I won’t be able to finish […]