Church of Santa Caterina da Siena

Stabat Mater by Giacomo Sellitti

Talenti Vulcanici
Stefano Demicheli orchestra leader

The Pietà de’ Turchini Choir

Davide Troìa choirmaster

Vittoria Magnarello, soprano
Maria Chiara Gallo, mezzo-soprano
Ehara Takaya, tenor
Mateusz Drozda, bass

A rare 18th-century Neapolitan page, reviewed and transcribed by Nicolo Maccavino, returns to echo in the Church of Santa Caterina da Siena..

In collaboration with Accademia d’Arte Lirica of Osimo*

*Vittoria Magnarello, soprano

Maria Chiara Gallo, mezzo-soprano

*Ehara Takaya, tenor

*Mateusz Drozda, bass

The Pietà de’ Turchini Choir

Davide Troìa choirmaster

Talenti Vulcanici

Stefano Demicheli orchestra leader

The Stabat Mater

The authorship of the text of the Stabat Mater has probably been erroneously attributed to Jacopone da Todi. Almost certainly, however, the prayer for the Virgin Mary who suffers the pains of her crucified Son spread in the 13th century within Franciscan circles. Starting from the end of the 15th century, the prayer was used in the liturgy both as a sequence and as a hymn. From here on, the Stabat Mater captured the attention of various composers who set the text to music. First of all, the Anglo-Saxons John Browne, William Cornysh, Richard Davy and Robert Hunt who, in the following centuries, left the compositional baton to the glorious names of Josquin des Prez, Franchino Gaffurio, Gregor Aichinger, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Orlando di Lasso.

Banned from the liturgy by the Council of Trent, the Stabat Mater was back in vogue thanks to Pope Benedict XIII who reintroduced it in 1727.

The Stabat Mater in baroque Naples.

In addition to the Venetians Agostino Steffani and Antonio Caldara, the most prominent Italian composers who ventured into the composition of opera in the middle of the Baroque period, were Neapolitans by birth or by adoption. Among these, Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti stand out (the latter, same as Caldara, had composed the Stabat Mater in his Roman years). But the probably best known Stabat Mater is that of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, written in 1736, the same year as the young composer’s death. This work enjoyed unparalleled success, so much so that it deserved numerous reprints and captured the attention of a composer like Johann Sebastian Bach who wanted to make a musical paraphrase in his psalm Tilge, Höchster, meine Sünden (BWV 1083). The famous Stabat Mater was commissioned to the twenty-five year old composer from Jesi, by the Knights of the Virgin of Sorrows of the Confraternity of San Luigi al Palazzo, with the aim of replacing the now dated version (1724) of the same work, set to music by Alessandro Scarlatti. which was repeated annually during the Lenten period.

Giacomo Sellitto

The Stabat Mater for four voices, violin, viola and continuo by Giacomo Sellitto or Sellitti, scheduled for this evening, dates back to at least the 1840s. It was almost certainly inspired and influenced by the famous Pergolesi page, in vogue since the time of its composition. Not surprisingly, although Sellitto’s music has not yet received the right attention from historians, his stylistic debt towards Pergolesi has already been reported by scholars such as Bertil H. Van Boer.

As well as specific studies, biographical information on Giacomo Sellitto is also very scarce: he was born in Naples on July 28, 1701 and spent his entire life as a singing teacher and composer in his hometown, covering the role of choirmaster at the Collegio dei Nobili. Younger brother of the best known composer Giuseppe Sellitto, author above all of many operatic pages, Giacomo wrote sacred, instrumental and theater music. In addition to the Stabat Mater, preserved in the library of the Naples conservatory, the surviving music of Giacomo Sellitto consists of 72 fugues for harpsichord or organ – kept in the same library -, a Parce mihi domine, probably attributable to the same musician and preserved in the library of the conservatory of Milan and finally, other music pages preserved in the library of the National Monument of Montecassino. Among the latter there are some toccatas, the celebratory cantata for three sopranos, strings and continuo entitled L’Aurora Sollecita (written for the first most fortunate birth by  the Most Excellent Lady D. Caterina Carafa Countess of Conza and sung by Mr. Niccolò Valletta) and two collections of arias extracted from operas. These arias suggest Giacomo Sellitto’s compositional activity for the theater. This data can be obtained, among other things, from the booklets of tragedies and oratorios signed by Lorenzo Brunasso or Brunassi (Naples 1709 – Naples 1753), Duke of San Filippo, eminent Neapolitan magistrate and scholar, as well as Arcadian with the name of Teopisto Carmideo. His plays, all set to music by Giacomo Sellitto along a probably strong and tested artistic combination, are La Geneviefa (Naples 1745), La passione di Nostro Signor Gesù Cristo (Naples 1745), Santa Perpetua martire (Naples 1747) and Il Marcelliano (Naples 1752). Giacomo Sellitto died in Naples on November 20, 1763, leaving to posterity a certain number of musical pages that rightfully constitute an important piece of the history of Neapolitan music of the 18th century. Starting from this awareness, the Pietà de’ Turchini Centre for Early Music strongly wanted to undertake the reappraisal of Giacomo Sellitto’s Stabat Mater which, like many other projects promoted by the same foundation, finds full realization in the performance in modern times of music pages forgotten until now, but of very high artistic value.

Giacomo Sances

Before the Stabat Mater the following piece will be performed:

Ragazzi  Angelo (1680 – 1750) Sonata a Quattro n.1 Op.I

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