A Baroque spectacle

Tuesday 23 April 2019

In the painting Quattro altari, which came to be in 1732, its creator, Italian painter Nicola Maria Rossi, immortalised the viceroy surrounded by courtiers playing instruments during the Feast of the Four Altars. The painting presents the best musicians and composers of Naples in the late Baroque period – musicologists managed to identify one of them, Domenico Sarro, composer of Didone abbandonata, the first of many works illustrating the same libretto by Pietro Metastasio. The listeners, who came to the ICE Kraków Congress Centre on Easter Monday for the final concert of the 16th Misteria Paschalia Festival had the opportunity to listen to his Sinfonia and the aria from Ginevra, principessa di Scozia.

In the 17th century, the city at the foot of Vesuvius was one of the largest cities in Europe, probably second only to Constantinople. Nearly 400,000 of its residents had to be entertained. This was done by means of numerous feste – religious celebrations and secular festivals. The city employed the best local composers to musically illustrate various genre scenes from the life of the City of Five Hundred Domes, presented during various comic plays in the streets – the first ever opera buffa, staged in Naples in 1733, La serva padrona by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, originates from such intermezzi).

And it was their work – the more light-hearted one, represented mainly by arias from comic operas – that was presented by the hosts of this year's festival: Antonio Florio with his Cappella Neapolitana ensemble, as well as tenor Pino De Vittorio, who won the crowd’s hearts on Holy Saturday – this time in a completely different repertoire – and soprano Roberta Invernizzi. The latter is an Italian singer, who specialises in music of the Baroque and Classicism, and has sung under the baton of the best conductors: Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Claudio Abbado, Jordi Savall, Alan Curtis, Fabio Biondi, Rinaldo Alessandrini and Ottavio Dantone – and it was fully deserved, which she proved with her artistic freedom and technical mastery during her latest performance in Krakow. Together with De Vittorio, who is both a singer, as well as quite an outstanding actor, they created a musical and dramatic Baroque spectacle, which made the audience cry from laughter. And what an outstanding programme it was! A local happy crazy girl (the cantata La Pazza a voce sola by Pietro Antonio Giramo), love hiccups (aria from Il Schiavo di sua moglie by Francesco Provenzale), love signing (aria Canta e dì, caro usignolo from Traiano by Francesco Mancini with dazzling coloraturas by Roberta Invernizzi), a satire on a poor lawyer, also known as a shred of liver with De Vittorio’s outstanding laughter crowning the piece (cantata Stò paglietta presuntuoso by Michelangelo Faggioli), Pulcinella’s love dilemmas (a duet with Carmosina from Il Pulcinella vendicato by Giovanni Paisiello – the only example of Classicism and… transvestism presented this evening), as well as a late, yet outstanding affection of a local senior (intermezzo buffo Graziello e Nella by Giuseppe Petrini). The Festa Napoletana programme was complemented by instrumental works performed with great enthusiasm: Flute Sonata by Leonardo Vinci(congratulations, Tommaso Rossi!) and Passacaglia by Michele Mascitti.

Musical jokes, impressive acting, excellent voices – no wonder that the audience demanded more and more encores. And yet the end – of both the concert and the entire festival – had to come at some point. We will see you next year!


Monika Partyk