Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
La serva padrona
CAST: Serpina: Anna Moffo, Uberto: Paolo Montarsolo
Orchestra Filarmonica di Roma
Franco Ferrara, conductor
RCA, 1962 (and others)
This recording is a rarity and it is a pity because, despite the passing of time, this Serva padrona is still charming and the merit is certainly of the two protagonists, Anna Moffo and Paolo Montarsolo.
Moffo as Serpina is bubbly and funny, but she is also a woman who knows how to command and how to be respected. She is loved not only for her wonderful voice, but also for the facets of the character: depending on the circumstances, she is coquettish and superb, but also mincing when it is necessary to get what she wants or to be pitied (take for example the whiny «Son sempre maltrattata», i. e. «I’m always ill-treated» in a recitative) and even nicely authoritarian, especially in the famous Stizzoso, mio stizzoso, with her pompous «Serpina vuol così!» and her «zit!» are more than ever threatening to Uberto. She does not deviate from this line even in A Serpina penserete, which should be melancholic in its slow part, but where the shrewdness of the servant is easily recognizable. Moffo is therefore a Serpina in the flesh and unforgettable.
Paolo Montarsolo is a gruff and desperate Uberto, Moffo’s worthy companion in this brilliant intermezzo. The character is caricatured, in the best tradition of the basso buffo, but certainly not with the intention to demean him. Montarsolo’s Uberto is funny because he tries to maintain his dignity at all costs, at least with himself: just remember his outburst at the beginning of Aspettare e non venire, vigorous because he loses his patience with Serpina’s abuses, and this mood is clear also in the next Questa è per me disgrazia and even in the aria of the second part, Son imbrogliato io già, even if here new feelings are involved.