Major Operas | La serva padrona by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi | Late Baroque

The Maid as Boss

Composed: 1734
Premiered: 1734, Naples
Libretto by Gennarantonio Federico

Intermezzio I

Uberto, a rich bachelor, is at his wits’ end regarding his servant, Serpina. She acts as though she is the mistress of the house and is disobedient, indecisive and opinionated. He decides to extricate himself from Serpina’s tyranny by taking a wife who will suppress her capricious nature. He expresses this idea to his mute valet, Vespone. Serpina, who knows that Uberto, deep down, has a soft spot for her, decides that she should be his bride and sets about persuading Uberto to marry her.

Intermezzio II

The cunning Serpina, along with Vespone, devises a plan to trick Uberto. She announces that she is to be married to a certain Capitan Tempesta and gives a terrifying description of him that causes Uberto to fear for her future. He demands to meet Capitan Tempesta, who arrives (in fact, it is Vespone in disguise). Serpina explains to Uberto that the capitan has demanded an enormous sum of money as her dowry. Uberto is horrified by the sinister capitan and his threats. Serpina then tells him that the capitan has explained that if he does not receive the dowry immediately, he will refuse to marry Serpina and Uberto must marry her instead. Uberto is not altogether displeased at this suggestion. Serpina reveals the capitan’s true identity and the couple thank Vespone for his help in bringing them together. The happy couple then rejoice.

Personalities | Giovanni Battista Pergolesi | Late Baroque | Opera


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