La Salustia: Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1732)

Marziano (Vittorio Prato) and Salustia (Serena Malfi)

★★★★

(Teatro Pergolesi, Jesi, 2011)

There’s no middle ground for rulers in Baroque operas. They’re either tyrants demanding submission at any cost, or weak figures who are manipulated by their ambitious courtiers. Alessandro, otherwise known as the emperor Alexander Severus (208-235), is one of the latter. When this opera opens, he’s very much in love with his new wife Salustia, the daughter of his general Marziano, and doesn’t understand why his mother Giulia dislikes her so much. Salustia, however, knows the reason only too well.

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Adriano in Siria: Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1734)

Pergolesi: Adriano

★★★★

(Opera Settecento at Cadogan Hall, 16 September 2015)

It’s no exaggeration to say that I’d been looking forward to this Adriano in Siria since the curtain fell on the last one. It’s the first full opera I’ve heard by the precociously gifted Pergolesi, who died at the age of only 26, and who is best known here in England for his haunting Stabat Mater. However, I suspect I’ll get to know Adriano itself pretty well by the end of the year. The production company Parnassus will soon* be releasing their own new recording of the opera, featuring a rather formidable cast, and Opera Settecento’s concert performance was perfectly timed to whet appetites and throw down the gauntlet.

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