Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
Adriano in Siria
CAST: Franco Fagioli: Farnaspe, Romina Basso: Emirena, Yuriy Mynenko: Adriano, Dilyara Idrisova: Sabina, Juan Sancho: Osroa, Cigdem Soyarsl: Aquilio
Jan Tomasz Adamus, conductor
Many of you, as me, probably know Giovanni Battista Pergolesi primarily for an intermezzo buffo, La serva padrona, and an important sacred piece, Stabat Mater. It is thus with great pleasure that I add to them the other great musical genre to have finally a perfect “trio” with the review of one of the few recordings of Adriano in Siria, the third of the four opere serie composed by Pergolesi.
Adriano in Siria was commissioned to Pergolesi to celebrate the birthday of the Queen of Spain, Elisabetta Farnese, mother of the new King of Naples. As usual for these occasions, the subject is classical and this time it is inspired by the history of the Roman Empire – more precisely, by the victory of Emperor Hadrian over the Parthians – and the action stems from many thwarted love stories and ingenious intrigues. The victorious entry into a conquered city in the first scene of the opera is another tribute to the royal family of Spain, since the King’s army had conquered Naples in the same year of the opera debut (1734).
Adriano premiered in Naples, at Teatro San Benedetto, on 25 October and was the last opera written by Pergolesi for that city: as the New Grove states, «in a statement by the impresario of the Teatro S. Bartolomeo to the Marquis d’Arienzo [one of the King’s closest friends] in 1735, Pergolesi is no longer mentioned among the composers who could be called on, and in a second document it is stated that he was esteemed as a musician but that his last opera had failed to please».
The libretto of Adriano in Siria was written by Pietro Metastasio, but in the opera written by Pergolesi many changes had been made to the text to please the famous castrato Caffarelli. It is a good example of how the caprices of a singer can influence one entire production: the original libretto had twenty-seven arias, but only ten of them were retained and the others were omitted or replaced by different texts. Another thing that astonished the listener is the unusual length of Caffarelli’s arias, which become the most important moments of the opera.
The present recording of Adriano in Siria is a very good one and features many distinguished singers specialized in the Baroque repertoire alongside with a fine orchestra and an excellent conductor. It is clear from the beginning of the Overture, a marvellous, bright piece of great charm, that the performers have carefully (I would like to say lovingly) looked after the opera and that they have tried and succeeded to fill our ears with a fine interpretation of this refined music. This is the main feature I have found in the orchestra and conductor. Jan Tomasz Adamus and Capella Cracoviensis give to Pergolesi’s music a gentle strength which, if on the one hand never forgets the elegance of the Baroque music, on the other it gives to it a subtlety where it is easy to depict every feeling and emotion.
As for the singers, I preliminarily would like to say that everyone of them is very good. Franco Fagioli sings the role of Farnaspe, originally created for Caffarelli, something that we could easily expect since some years ago he recorded an album devoted to the famous castrato’s repertoire. I confess that I do not like the vibrato in Fagioli’s voice, but he is anyway a singer of great artistry and technique and he has many opportunities to show them, since his arias are the longest and the most virtuosic of Adriano in Siria.
Another outstanding performance is that of Yuriy Minenko (Adriano), who adds the quality of a marvellous, velvety voice to the best features you may wish from a singer of the Baroque repertoire (especially his perfect mastery of coloratura and long breaths). I liked less tenor Juan Sancho (Osroa) not because he is not good, but only because he is too vehement for my tastes. Romina Basso as Emirena is remarkable as always and I would like to remember that her best feature is the sweetness with which she characterizes her character and which makes wonderful an aria as Quell’amplesso e quel perdono. Dilyara Idrisova distinguishes herself for the intensity of the feelings she expresses and her connotation of Sabina transforms the character in a true, sensitive human being. At last, Cigdem Soyarsl as Aquilio is a delicate, fine singer, to whom is a pleasure to listen to.