Gallerie d'Italia-Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano

IOLE – Nicola Antonio Porpora

Concerto de’ Cavalieri

Conductor: Marcello di Lisa

Soprano: Anna Carbonera

Contralto: Teresa Iervolino

Bass: Iosu Yeregui

Concerto de’ Cavalieri

Formed in Pisa at the Scuola Normale Superiore by Marcello Di Lisa, Concerto de’ Cavalieri quickly gained the attention of the public and critics as one of the most interesting groups in the panorama of early music.

The group is present in some of the most important international concert seasons, including Musikverein in Vienna, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Auditorio Nacional in Madrid, Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon, Ambronay Festival, in collaboration with soloists such as Daniela Barcellona, ​​Vivica Genaux, Ann Hallenberg, Kristina Hammarström, Maurice Steger.

Engaged in the rediscovery and dissemination of unpublished scores, in particular of the Roman Baroque repertoire, he recently premiered in modern times the serenades Erminia by Alessandro Scarlatti and Jole by Nicola Porpora, and the opera Tito Manlio (Rome version of 1720 ) by Antonio Vivaldi.

Concerto de’ Cavalieri records for Sony, in particular, since 2011 it has been involved in a multi-year recording project on the 18th-century Italian opera (The Baroque Project, Sony / dhm). The first volume of the series, Alessandro Scarlatti-Opera Arias (2011), with the participation of mezzo-soprano Daniela Barcellona, ​​has received numerous awards, including a nomination for the International Classical Music Awards. The second CD, published in 2012 and dedicated to Pergolesi, again with the participation of Daniela Barcellona, ​​was included in the annual “Want List” of the American magazine Fanfare. The third volume, Antonio Vivaldi – Opera Arias and Concertos (2014), with the participation of the Swedish mezzo-soprano Kristina Hammarström, was included in the special issue of Gramophone dedicated to the Classical Music Awards and in the Yearbook of Opernwelt, among the best recordings of 2014 .

Marcello Di Lisa

Marcello Di Lisa studied composition, harpsichord and fortepiano. He graduated in classical literature from the University of Pisa and in 2004 he recieved his PhD in  Philology and Greek and Latin Literature, at the same university with a thesis on the manuscript tradition of Archimedes’ works. He has collaborated with several magazines on ancient thought.

At the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa he founded Concerto de’ Cavalieri, which he conducts in important festivals and concert seasons in Italy and abroad. His recordings, for Sony, have received numerous critical accolades. He was chosen as the Artist of the Month by Musical America.

In the field of musicological research, he dedicated himself to the study of Roman music of the 17th and 18th centuries, with particular attention to the unpublished scores by Alessandro Scarlatti.

Anna Carbonera

She began studying opera singing and graduated at the G. Verdi Conservatory in Milan. Subsequently she graduated in Sociology and continues to improve her skills with teachers such as M. Custer, R. Abbondanza, R. Scotto, R. Bruson, E. Norberg-Schulz.

During these years she approaches the Baroque repertoire, deepening the study of performance practice with G. Bertagnolli and with S. Mingardo and dedicating herself to it with increasing zeal, making it her own area of interest.

Finalist and winner of numerous international competitions, in 2011 won the 65th edition of the “Concorso comunità Europea per giovani cantanti lirici” at the “Belli” Theater in Spoleto. In the same year she won the 2nd place ex-aequo (1st prize not awarded) at the “Concorso di canto barocco F. Provenzale” organized by the Pietà de’ Turchini Foundation of Naples.

In 2013 she was awarded the prestigious “Stockholm culture award” with an award ceremony in Stockholm in the presence of prominent Swedish institutional officials.

She has an intense activity as a soloist, which sees her involved both in the field of early music and in the later repertoire, up to contemporary music.

Following her victory in the Spoleto opera competition, Anna Carbonera performed the role of Violetta Valery in Verdi’s La Traviata under the direction of C. Palleschi for the 2012 season for the Belli Theater. She was also chosen to take part in the lyric recital for the celebration of Maestro R. Bruson’s 50-year career. She participated in the tours in Istanbul at the Italian Culture Center and in the tours of the Experimental Lyric Theater of Spoleto in St. Petersburg for the “International Musical Hermitage Festival” at the Hermitage Museum with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, in 2012 and 2013.

In March 2012 she interpreted the role of the protagonist in the opera by P. Generali “Adelaide di Borgogna” in the first modern performance at the Teatro Sociale in Rovigo under the direction of F. Piva. A box set of the concert was released by the Bongiovanni record company.

In April of the same year she was committed in Mozart’s “Mass in C minor k427”  conducted by P. Veleno in Pescara, in Orff’s “Carmina Burana” conducted by M. Trombetta in Novara and in a Rossini recital (“Péchés de ma veillesse ”) with the pianist A. Marangoni for the season of the Polytechnic of Turin.

In June 2012 for the season of “La Verdi” in Milan she sang under the direction of Maestro D. Ang in the contemporary composition “Sacrae Symphoniae” by F. Testi.

In 2013 she was awarded the prestigious Swedish “Stockholm Culture awards” with a concert-ceremony in the presence of the highest officials of the Scandinavian state.

Among her commitments as a soloist we can also mention: the participation in the production “Peer Gynt” by Grieg for the Accademia di Santa Cecilia at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, directed by M. V. Ashkenazy; the collaboration with Maestro L. Bacalov for the recording of movies music, under whose direction she also sang for the opening concert of the “Divinamente Roma” festival (” Requiem op.48 “by Faurè,” Salmi del Re David ” L. Bacalov); “La Torcia e il Melograno” by M. D’Amico for the Auditorium of the “Roma Tre” University with the Roma Sinfonietta orchestra conducted by P. Mianiti; the “Carmina Burana” by K. Orff in Pavia and Milan conducted by G. Prandi; the Epiphany concert 2011 at the basilica of S. Maria sopra Minerva, Rome, conducted by M. Boemi; “The Cady of Baghdad” (1778) by T. Linley Jr, directed by L. de Filippi in its first Italian performance; the participation in 2010 in the “Mozart Festival” of Gdansk in Poland with a Mozartian recital and as first soprano in Mozart’s “Mass in C Minore k427”.

In the field of early and baroque music Anna Carbonera collaborated with “Le Parlement de Musique” of Strasbourg as the protagonist of the opera “Alcina” by Handel under the direction of M. Gester in Vannes for a concert with music by Hasse, Scarlatti and Haendel at the Severgne Sacred Music Festival; she was Nice in Vivaldi’s “Serenata a tre RV690” at the Rossini Theater in Pesaro under the direction of A.Ciccolini; with F. Biondi’s “Europa Galante” she sang Baucis in Haydn’s “Philemon und Baucis” in Madrid; 17th century Roman Vespers with the Concerto Romano ensemble conducted by A. Quarta at the “Rheingau Musik Festival” in Germany; for the “Pietà de’ Turchini” Centre for Early Music with the ensemble “Scherza l’alma”, with “Les Talens Lyrique” by C. Rousset at the Koeln Philharmonie in the “Lecons des tenebres” by Charpentier / Couperin.

Teresa Iervolino

She was born in Bracciano on May 14, 1989, already as a child she showed interest in music and at the age of 8 she began studying piano, achieving the lower level completion .

Later attracted by the opera, she decides to devote herself to opera singing, continuing at the same time to study piano and  composition.

In 2007 she was admitted to the Conservatory D. Cimarosa in Avellino where in 2011 she obtained the singing diploma with honors. Subsequently she perfected herself with a series of masterclasses under the guidance of Domenico Colajanni, Alfonso Antoniozzi, Daniela Barcellona, Bernadette Manca Di Nissa, Bruno Nicoli and Stefano Giannini.

Already in 2008 she began to perform in a series of lyric-symphonic concerts in the Campania region. In November 2011 she performed as a mezzo-soprano in the concert-conference by Vincenzo Ramon Bisogni, held at the Piccolo Teatro in Florence in collaboration with the Foyer and the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. In 2010 she won the 3rd prize at the “Città di Ravello” international opera competition. In 2012 she was the winner of the 63rd ASLICO competition for young opera singers of Europe 2012, and following the ASLICO victory she performed in various shows of the Circuito Lombardo.

In 2012 she won the 1st Prize at the “Città di Bologna” International Opera Competition and the special “Gigliola Frazzoni” and “Anselmo Colzani” prizes. On the occasion of the “Città di Bologna” competition, she also attends a course held by the soprano Cinzia Forte and the director Francesco Micheli.

Subsequently she won the 1st Prize at the Salicedoro International Opera Competition 2012 and at the 2012 “Maria Caniglia” International Opera Competition. She also won the As.Li.Co. 2013 for the role of Tancredi and the 1st Prize at the Etta Limiti International Competition.

She made her debut at the Verona Philharmonic Theater in May 2012 with Stravinskj’s Pulcinella, followed by those of Maddalena in Rigoletto in Chieti, of Isabella in l’Italiana in Algeri in Como and Ravenna, of Miss Bagott in Il piccolo spazzacamino at Regio in Turin, by Fidalma in Il matrimonio segreto at the Spoleto Festival, of Maffio Orsini in Lucrezia Borgia in Padua, of Tancredi in the Theaters of the Circuito Lombardo, as Clarice in La pietra del paragone at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and of Calbo in Maometto II at the Rome Opera House.

Among her recent and future engagements: Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia conducted by Maestro Montanari at the Rome Opera House, Rossini’s Cantata Giovanna d’Arco with the Tokyo Philarmonic Orchestra conducted by Maestro Zedda, Pulcinella by Stravinskij for the inauguration of the Symphonic Season of the San Carlo Theater conducted by Maestro Ferro, Cornelia in Giulio Cesare at the Opera de Toulon conducted by Maestro Alessandrini and Holofernes in Vivaldi’s Juditha Triumphans conducted by Maestro De Marchi.

Iosu Yeregui de Eguia

He was born in San Sebastián and after having studied Contemporary Dance, Transverse flute and management in his native land, he began his vocal training in the Koninklijk Konservatorium Den Haag, Holland, and continues it in the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Switzerland. He is currently completing his vocal training under the tutelage of Ana Luisa Chova.

During all these years he attended, in the same time, singing classes with Paride Venturi, Carlos Chausson, Carlos Mena, Jessica Cash, Marta Almajano, Sonia Prina, Víctor Torres, Buonaldo Giaiotti and Richard Levitt.

As a soloist, a concert performer and as an ensemble interpreter he sang in the Victoria Eugenia Theater, Kursaal, Auditorio de Zaragoza, Auditorio de Cuenca, Auditorium de León, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Teatro Real, Theater Basel, Freunde für Alte Musik, Circolo Opera in Bologna, Festival de Wallonie, Bozar Bruxelles, Ópera Vichy, Reims and Saint Etienne, Festival d’Ambronay and Berliner Philarmoniker, to name a few.

Likewise he was invited to participate in the 67th edition of the Quincena Musical de San Sebastián with a recital on Mozart.

He has worked under the direction of Masters such as Joshua Rifkin, Jordi Savall, Ton Koopman, Anthony Rooley, Leonardo García Alarcón, Jose Luis Martinez, Jose Luis Basso, Jose Antonio Montaño, Bruce Dickie and Charles Toet, and groups such as Capilla Mediterranea, Los Músicos de su Alteza, Capilla Peñaflorida, Ensemble der Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and A Sei Voci.

In his repertoire appear titles such as Requiem, Missa Brevis and Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Requiem de Fauré, Magnificat, The Passion according to St. Matthew and several Bach cantatas, Haydn’s Creation, Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri and Jephte de Handel.

On stage he played Sarastro (The Magic Flute), Masetto (Don Giovanni), Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro), Caronte y Plutone (Orfeo), Somnus (Semele), Il Re (Ariodante), Zoroastro (Orlando), Polyphemus 5Acis , Galatea & Polyphemus) Ferrando (Il Trovatore), Doctor Grenvil and Marquis d’Obigny (La Traviata) and Simpson (La Tabernera del Puerto).

Nicola Antonio Porpora (Naples, 17 August 1686; Naples,3 March 1768)

Nuptial celebration in  Piedimonte

Since the summer of 1711, preparations for the solemn wedding between the heir of the family Pascale Count of Alife, and Marie-Magdalène de Croy of the dukes of Havré, have been in full swing in Piedimonte d’Alife (today the city of Piedimonte Matese, then a large agro-manufacturing village in Terra di Lavoro and main residence of the Gaetani dukes). Brother-in-law of the bride is Prince Philipp von Hessen-Darmstadt, commander of the Habsburg army in Naples between 1709 and 1713; not a rough soldier but a well educated patron of the sciences and arts who, as imperial governor of Mantua between 1714 and 1735, did his utmost to organize opera seasons with the collaboration of Vivaldi.

The father of the groom counts among the most expert political maneuvers of the high Neapolitan feudality: Don Nicola Gaetani Dell’Aquila d’Aragona, by birth heir to the titles of Prince of Traetto and Duke of Laurenzana, then – sailing unscathed through the changes of regime in a Rossinian crescendo of Spanish, Habsburg and Bourbon splendor – Lieutenant General of the militias, Grand of Spain, Field Marshal, Court Counselor, State Councilor, Chief Justiciar of the Kingdom, Knight of San Gennaro.

To distinguish these celebrations from the many similar ones that characterize this honeymoon period between the native nobility and the new rulers of the Kingdom, is above all the personality of the lady of the house and future mother-in-law Aurora Sanseverino, who alone would provide sufficient material for the historians of a half a dozen disciplines. The extraordinary network of family, diplomatic, literary and patronage relationships that this genius woman, an authentic key figure of an entire era, had been able to create within a quarter of a century was fully mobilized in order to transform the nuptials of Piedimonte in the highlight of a season that saw the celebrations for the election of Carlo d’Asburgo, fresh sovereign of Naples, as Holy Roman-Germanic Emperor with the name of Carlo VI.

Leafing through the chronicles of those months, one can see how the twenty-six year old Nicola Antonio Porpora was increasingly establishing himself as the official bard of the new regime, thanks to his hiring by the aforementioned Prince of Hessen-Darmstadt. Better psychologists than their heirs of the 20th century, the “Alemannic” conquerors of that time did not limit themselves to controlling Naples with the cavalry regiments and the artillery of the fortresses, but had already understood before the Bourbons the importance of “parties and flour” combination, saving the gallows as a last resort. Welcomed almost as liberators after the last very hard decades of Spanish government, they even attempted in the musical field some multiethnic fraternization with the illustrious local tradition, as we read in a curious article in the “Gazzetta di Napoli” dated 2 June 1711: “Yesterday the Feast of St. John of Nepomuk, Canon of Prague was celebrated with all the greatest sacred splendor, in the Church of S. Luigi de ‘Padri Minimi, according to the intuition of the Alemani Officials of the Caesarean Troops, with innumerable participation of the officers, attended by His Highness the Prince of Darmestat, with Alemannic and Italian Instrumental Choirs, with exquisite Music by His Highness’ Chapel Master, Nicolò Porpora. ”

It takes little to imagine the innovative effect produced by the renowned military bands from across the Alps. It may not be a coincidence that for the entire following decade the tone of the San Bartolomeo Theater was enriched with trumpets, flutes, oboes and horns to an unprecedented extent. Like this, for example with Alessandro Scarlatti: in the Tigrane of 1715 and in the Telemaco of 1718, but above all in the Carlo re d’Alemagna (1716), where the initial symphony is a full-blown military march, and all the “Alemannic instruments”  reappear in orchestral choruses or as obligatory parts in arias.

Needless to say, “Melodies of many flutes for German use” welcomed the wedding parade of Don Pascale and Donna Maria Maddalena. The wedding was celebrated in Capua on 6 December; the festivities lasted for another ten days in the ducal palace of Piedimonte in the presence, among many invited nobility, of the prince of Hessen-Darmstadt accompanied by his wife and faithful choirmaster. Precisely Porpora, from whom – with exquisite political and dynastic awareness – Aurora had commissioned one of the six large musical works (an opera and five serenades) intended to form the soundtrack of the celebrations; besides, of course, other “highly selected music of well-harmonious voices and instruments” which rang out from the first evening, and whose authors are not known with certainty.


The rediscovered Iole

In addition to Porpora, the musical program of the celebrations – reconstructed with some gaps from an essay by Antonello Furnari and Carlo Vitali [1] and then further explained by Francesco Cotticelli and Paologiovanni Maione [2] – lined up a sample of local masters such as Giovanni Paolo di Domenico, Nicola Fago known as Tarantino and Francesco Mancini, but also two foreigners: the Bolognese Giacomo Antonio Perti and “Mr. Giorgio Friderico Henne, known as the Sassone “, that is Handel, whose serenade Aci, Galatea and Polifemo HWV 72 (here renamed La Galatea) had its debut in Naples in the summer of 1708 on commission from Aurora and, as in the case of Iole, on a libretto by her secretary, the Arcadian poet Nicola Giuvo.

The discovery of a collective printing license attached to the libretto of Nicola Fago’s Cassandra indovina allowed the writer to ascertain in 1983 the authorship of the early Handelian masterpiece, which was previously hypothetically attributed to the cardinal-viceroy Vincenzo Grimani; but this is another story. A research trip to London and Vienna, in an era prior to the digitization and networking of many bibliographic treasures that can now be consulted with a few clicks of the mouse, allowed him to verify the survival of both the aforementioned work by Fago [3] and the serenade by Porpora which is the subject of this first modern performance.

The manuscript SA.68.C.10 Mus of the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek bears the original title Serenata à 3 Voci con instromenti / Posta in Musica / Dal Sig: r Nicoló Porpora / 1711. On an unspecified date but certainly prior to 1847, it was donated by a well-known Roman collector, abbot Fortunato Santini, to his Viennese colleague Raphael Georg Kiesewetter (1773-1850), accompanied by a modest dedication that claimed to be “a piece [sic] of a very well-known author; and an intriguing binding “.

More than intriguing, the binding is even sumptuous, with its heavy red Morocco leather adorned with hot stamped golden arabesques. This stylistic detail and the rounded handwriting of the copyist – clear even if not very elegant – allow the object to be attributed without hesitation to the Neapolitan scribal environment. A later hand, perhaps that of Santini himself, added the names of the characters at the top of the frontispiece : “Dejanira – Jole Ercole”. It cannot be said that before our identification, the score attracted great attention among musicologists, apart from an essay by Helmut Hell who briefly analyzed the overture alone [4].


 The original cast, the plot and the music

The first took place on 11 December 1711 in the great hall of the Ducal Palace of Piedimonte, with great success and requests for an encore. The Neapolitan bass Antonio Manna (Ercole) sang, creator of extreme roles by extension and pitched jolts such as Handel’s Polifemo and Scarlatti’s Pastore nell’Erminia, plus two Florentine castrati long active on the Neapolitan scene: Domenico Maria Tempesti ( Dejanira) and Giovanni Battista Rapaccioli (Iole). All gifted with considerable agility; but in modern terms Tempesti could be defined as a corto mezzo-soprano rather than an authentic contralto, while Rapaccioli was a soprano with a C sharp extension, typical for the time even in female colleagues.

The plot of Iole resumes with various alterations that narrated by Ovid in the ninth book of the Metamorphoses (in particular in vv. 135-272) and in the ninth book of the Heroides. In addition, Giuvo merges two distinct mythological archetypes into a single figure: the shy Iole and the impudent Onfale, queen of Lydia; which allows him to satirize the degradation of Hercules, engaged in soft ancillary occupations of spinning while the woman struts with the club and leonine skin stolen from the hero.

Dejanira, wife of Hercules, is furious with jealousy for her husband’s love affairs with the slave Iole, the daughter of the king of Hecalia who was defeated in the war. Eager to win him back, she makes him wear a white robe soaked in an unguent made from the blood of the centaur Nessus, in his time killed by Hercules himself, from whom he had tried to kidnap his bride, with arrows dipped in the blood of the Lernaean Hydra. The posthumous revenge of Nessus takes place: that alleged magical potion, an anantidote against marital betrayals which he himself wickedly passed off to Dejanira, is actually a tenacious poison, which consumes Hercules’ flesh in excruciating pain and drives him mad. As soon as he is incinerated at the funeral pyre that puts an end to his torments, the hero rises to sing with the two desperate widows a trio of warning to the spectators against the danger of unrestrained passions; a very convenient theme for an epithalamic serenade. The story, in itself mournful, is skilfully scripted with an abundance of erudite and gallant concepts typical of Arcadia, but does not fail to mix the dramatic ideas with a variety of satirical motifs and moral lessons.

The score, introduced by an overture in three movements with a rather unusual agogic accent (Andante – Presto fugato – Tempo giusto), consists of 16 ended pieces all with “da capo”, including some arias of conspicuous bel canto interest and three ensamble pieces (a duet and two trios) of excellent counterpoint composition. The two accompanied recitatives of Hercules are very remarkable in the finale. The number and vocal profile of the characters, the aggressive virtuosity flaunted by a male protagonist who sometimes fades into the grotesque register, the masterfully graduated instrumentation in the effects [5], the originality in the cut of the scenes make Porpora’s Iole a match, perhaps intentional of Aci, Galatea and Polifemo. It seems in a way the prologue of the rivalry that a quarter of a century later will still oppose the two composers on the London opera scene.

                                                                                              Carlo Vitali

[1] Antonello Furnari – Carlo Vitali, Händels Italienreise. Neue Dokumente, Hypothesen und Interpretationen, in “Göttinger Händel-Beiträge”, Band IV, Kassel etc., Bärenreiter, 1991.

[2] Francesco Cotticelli – Paologiovanni Maione, Onesto divertimento, ed allegria de’ popoli. Materiali per una storia dello spettacolo a Napoli nel primo Settecento, Milano, Ricordi, 1996.

[3] The manuscript score of the Cassandra indovina is preserved in ownerless form at the British Library in London (Add. 14239); it is part of the fund donated in 1843 by the Marquise of Northampton, who had in turn purchased it from the Neapolitan collector and music lover Gaspare Selvaggi.

[4] Helmut Hell, Die neapolitanische Opernsinfonie in der ersten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts, Tutzing, H. Schneider, 1971.

[5] In addition to the oboes, used with pathetic or warlike phrasing from time to time, in the strings section there are indications such as “solo cello”, “violone”, double basses “,” solo violins “,” ripieno violins “.

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