Pergolesi "Ogni pena più spietata" Janet Baker





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Published on Feb 18, 2008

(Sorry for the downhill score on some parts..)

Dame Janet Baker
Ogni pena più spietata
from "Lo frate 'nnamorato", musical comedy in 3 acts Act 1.

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710 - 1736)


Music by Giovanni B. Pergolesi
Libretto: Gennaro Antonio Federico
Date Written: 1732
Key: A minor
Voicing: Mezzo Soprano
Character: Ascanio

In this recording:

Dame Janet Baker
with James Tyler, Graham Sheen, Nicholas Kraemer, Viola Section Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Celia Nicklin,
Conducted by Neville Marriner


Ogni pena più spietata
Soffrirìa quest'alma afflitta e desolata,
Se godesse una speranza di potersi consolar.
Ma, ohimè, cade ogni speme,
Non c'è luogo, non c'è vita [via],
Non c'è modo di sperar.

Translation:(Thanks to MehdiCaps)

"My grieved and distressed heart
would be able to suffer more pitiless pains,
if I had a hope of finding comfort.
But, alas, there is no reason, no opportunity,
no possibility to hope."

Lo Frate 'nnamorato or The Enamoured Brother was Pergolesi's first operatic comedy. It was premiered in 1734 at the Teatro dei Fiorientini in Naples and met with immediate success.


The plot concerns love triangles and mistaken identity. It is the usual Neapolitan comedy fare of the time. Ascanio is adopted. He loves his adopted sister Luggrezia, but thinks it is simply brotherly love. Marcaniello (Luggrezia's father) has promised her to Carlo. In return, Carlo promises to marry his two nieces to old man Marcaniello and his eldest son Don Pietro. However, the three girls love Ascanio and do not consent to the arranged marriages. Frustrated, Don Pietro asks his brother Ascanio, to plead with the sisters.

The sisters confess their love for Ascanio and Don Pietro takes his brother to task. Ascanio, the enamoured brother of the title, confesses that he loves all three women and cannot choose between them. Don Pietro is infuriated and wounds his brother in a duel. As Carlo treats Ascanio's wound, he recognises a birthmark and realises Ascanio is his long lost nephew and brother of the sisters. This explains Ascanio's affection for the girls. Ascanio declares his love for Luggrezia and the unsuccessful suitors confess themselves defeated.


The musical pieces of the opera consist of an introduction (overture) and 28 vocal movements including 1 accompanied recitative, 2 duets, 1 trio, 1 quintet to end of act 2, and a 1 and a half minute finale to end the opera. The short finale, continuous music sung by the whole cast, is feature of the comedy operas of this time. Finales only became extended from the middle of the 18th century.

With Lo Frate Nnamorato, Pergolesi is often credited with the creation of a new comic style. This is not true. Pergolesi was simply one of a number of Neapolitan exploit an already popular form.

Opera Buffa developed from the comic scenes that originally interlaced the action of serious operas. In keeping with its traditions, Opera Buffa usually involved a bass and soprano in the crudest of slapstick farces. In Naples, the masters portrayed in these farces were often drawn from the large prosperous middle class. It was only a matter of time before librettists realised that it was more profitable to laugh with the middle classes, than at them. At this point, the plots of Opera Buffa became soap operas in which the serious characters were mixed with locals (who sang in dialect). In keeping with the rules of opera seria, castratos played the romantic young men, while a bass, specialising in buffo roles, played the clown.

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