Both Scarlatti and Martini delight with La Dirindina
I wish I spoke Italian. If I did, I expect I’d enjoy these two versions of La Dirindina even more than I did. Nevertheless, the broadly played performances of the singers (particularly Carlo Torriani), gave me a general idea of the humorous interplay going on in this opera buffa.
In the early 1700s, humorous musical interludes were inserted between the acts of operas. At that time, operas were concerned with the doings of gods and men (always of noble blood), had large casts, and were deadly serious. By contrast, the short opera buffa usually involved commoners or servants, with a cast of three.
In La Dirindina, an old music teacher (Don Carissimo) has immoral designs on his pupil (Dirindina), a young aspiring singer. Her attentions are drawn to a handsome castrato (Liscione). The libretto satirizes the world of opera and opera singers. Dirindina and Liscione, for example, fall in love while singing a duet about Dido and Aeneas, mirroring the action audience saw in the serious operas.
It’s also a pretty racy text, with plenty of sexual innuendoes and sexually-based humor. Dominico Scarlatti’s setting for the 1715 Carnival Season in Rome didn’t make it past the censors. But Padre Martini’s 1737 version did.
Scarlatti relies more heavily on secco recitative to move the story along, though his arias, duos, and trios are quite lovely. Martini, on the other hand, uses recitative more sparingly, letting duets carry the conversations. To my ears, Martini’s music also seems to capture the humorous nature of the text better than Scarlatti.
This album expanded my musical knowledge in several directions. About the only opera buffa, I was familiar with before was Pergolisi’s La Serva Padrona. Hearing these helped provide some context for that work.
Virtually all I had heard by Dominico Scarlatti were his keyboard sonatas, so it was nice to hear a different type of composition by him. I was familiar with Padre Martini through music history. He was a noted master of counterpoint and a sought-after composition teacher (his pupils include JC Bach and Mozart). But I had not heard any of his music before now. It was a pleasure.
Dominico Scarlatti: La Dirindina (1715)
Tullia Pedersoli, soprano; Carlo Torriani, baritone; Filippo Pina Castiglioni, tenor
Giovanni Battista Martini: La Dirindina 1737
Camilla Antonini, soprano; Filippo Pina Castiglioni, tenor; Paola Quagliata, soprano
I Solisti Ambrosiani; Enrico Barbagli, conductor and harpsichord