Personalities | Giovanni Battista Pergolesi | Late Baroque | Opera

1710–36, Italian

Pergolesi died at a tragically young age, but he produced a substantial corpus of works during his brief yet intense six-year career. In the 1720s he studied in Naples with teachers including Francesco Durante (1684–1755) and Vinci, but his first opera, La Salustia (1732), was a failure due to the death of the star castrato Nicolini. Undeterred, Pergolesi produced his first comic opera Lo frate ’nnamorato (‘The Brother in Love’, 1732), which was enthusiastically received at Naples. Pergolesi specialized in comic works, although Adriano in Siria (1734) and L’Olimpiade were both serious operas that featured libretti by Metastasio. Pergolesi’s last stage work, Il flaminio (‘Flaminio’, 1735), was a very popular opera buffa that was still performed in Naples in 1750. However, success came too late for Pergolesi, whose international reputation was rapidly formed posthumously. Pergolesi is best known today for his Stabat mater, composed while he was suffering from the illness that eventually killed him, but his historical significance derives from the comic intermezzo La serva padrona (‘The Maid as Boss’, 1734), which was intended to be merely a short companion piece to his full opera Il prigionier superbo (‘The Haughty Prisoner’, 1733).

Introduction | Late Baroque | Opera
Major Operas | La serva padrona by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi | Late Baroque
Personalities | Nicola Antonio Porpora | Late Baroque | Opera
The Voice | The Castrati | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera
The Voice | The Training of the Castrati | Late Baroque | Opera
Houses & Companies | Baroque Opera in Naples | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera


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