Pergolesi had an impressive output for one who died at 26. He wrote a mass, several works for organ, a string orchestral Stabat Mater, and an intermezzo, to name a few. His intermezzo, the operatic short story to be shown between acts of a larger opera, is what we will focus on.
Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona is scored for string orchestra and continuo and sounds much like a short opera. There is continuo throughout, especially obvious during recitatives, variation in instrument colors, and sometimes Vivaldi-like chordal eighth notes at points to add motion to build intensity.
For the score, click here:
The orchestra shows a very present role in developing the music. It gives introductions and conclusions, but also calls and responds to soloists and doubles voices. As this continues to grow as a trend, the classical style will draw the idea of raising the importance of instrumentalists until Schubert comes along and gives the accompaniment entire independence.
I found it interesting that originally performed in Italy, this intermezzo caused quite a still when it was introduced in Paris. The stage there was almost entirely used for French music, but the widespread of La Serva Padrona planted Italian musical seeds into the people. It was not long until the opera buffa of Italy was under high request in France. Sixty pamphlets between 1752 and 1754 document the controversy of bringing in the Italian music. It was not, however all about music. “Waged within the seemingly harmless domain of comic opera but set against the backdrop of a Paris immersied in political and financial crisis, the querelle brought together in one dramatic moment traditionalists and innovators who vied for control over who was to represent the taste of the French Nation.” (Alano, 124)
The Triumpho of the “bouffons: La Serva padrona” at the Paris Opera, 1752-1754
The French Review, Vol 79, No. 1 (Oct., 2005, pp.124-135)
Published by: American Association of Teachers of French
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25480134
Pergolesi: La Serva Padrona, intermezzo in two parts
On Youtube, submitted by patcucciola on May 25th, 2012