Pergolesi Livietta e Tracollo; (La) Serva Padrona
The soundrecording of these performances was very acceptable but of course nowadays you never know what abominations the staging will have in store. So reassurance comes first: sets‚ costumes and style of acting match the music and present no affront or silliness beyond what is inherent in the pieces themselves. As to that‚ I’m afraid that watching while listening (as opposed to listening and imagining) does nothing to lessen the feeling I remember in association with the CD‚ that on the whole this was time that could be better spent.
These oneact operas are intermezzi originally played between the acts of an opera seria. Livietta e Traccolo (1734) has a grotesque story of a girl who disguises herself as a Frenchman so as to get even with a thief who disguises himself as a pregnant Pole. La serva padrona (1733) tells of the middleaged employer of a young servantgirl who tricks him into marrying her. In both‚ the woman is a pert‚ pretty little thing and the man pulls supposedly comic faces. Amusement for a modern audience (which is unlikely to be a popular one) lies more in the wit and charm of Pergolesi’s music‚ so to that extent the video does not really add a great deal.
One positive difference I found was that of the four singing performances‚ that of Donato di Stefano impressed as the strongest. It’s a good‚ firm‚ sonorous buffo bass and he plays up well to his sprightly Serpina‚ Patrizia Biccire. Nancy Argenta is a brightvoiced Livietta‚ with her partner acting better than he sings.
A principal pleasure throughout is the stylish playing of La Petite Bande under Sigiswald Kuijken. He gives an honest but not very enlivening interview‚ disclaiming any psychological profundities and recommending the pieces for their dexterity and accomplishment within the limits of a stylised light entertainment.