musica Dei donum
Hasse: La Contadina, intermezzi in musica; Mascitti: Concerto a 6 stromenti in
G, op. 7,3
Graciela Oddone (Scintilla), soprano; Lorenzo Regazzo (Don Tabarano), bass-baritone
Dir: Attilio Cremonesi
rec: Nov. 1998, Zürich, Schweizer radio DRS2
Harmonia mundi - HMC 905244 (70'28")
Most intermezzi have the same subject: an old man falls in love with a
young girl, who sees an opportunity to push the old fool around or to
get rich. This intermezzo isn't different. Let me first give the
synopsis as it is in the booklet.
Intermezzo primo: The wealthy, dandyish farmer Don Tabarano and his
recalcitrant, mute servant Corbo meet the peasant-girl Scintilla in
the garden. For Tabarano it is love at first sight. He asserts his
love to her in monologues in which the high-flown metaphors uneeringly
lead to erotic allusions. Scintilla senses a chance to reap financial
gain. She claims that her whole fortune was stolen by thieves the
previous night. Tabarano, appalled, offers her full restitution from
his own pocket. With the promise of her love, she relieves him of his
money and valuables so that she can flee with her lover Lucindo. Carbo
sees through her game, yet cannot protect his master from his own
foolishness. When Scintilla also demands the house and the farm, but
at the same time refusing to give Tabarano proof of her love, he, too,
Intermezzo secondo: Tabarano, Corbo, and other helpers are disguised
as Turkish pirates. They seize Scintilla and Lucindo just as the
couple is about to board ship. Tabarano threatens them, in a gibberish
of Turkish and Neapolitan dialect, with enslavement and death.
Scintilla offers a deal for their freedom: She will lead the pirates
to a rich farmer - Tabarano - from whom they can extort a lot of money
and possessions. Tabarano, still in disguise, questions Scintilla
about her relationship to this man and learns that in reality she
doesn't love him. Tabarano then discloses his identity and threatens
to turn her over to the authorities. After she learns that Lucindo has
flown and left her sitting, she finally assents - not entirely of her
own free will - to a liaison with Tabarano, who is overjoyed at having
her, through her own doing, 'under control'. Both dance as the piece
comes to an end.
Hasse composed this work in 1728; it was staged in the Teatro S.
Bartolomeo in Naples as entr'acte for the opera Clitarco by Pietro
Scarlatti. Between 1728 and 1769 the work was staged at least 38 times
in major European opera houses. The similarity of the title with
Pergolesi's intermezzo La Contadina Astuta resulted in attributions of
Hasse's work to Pergolesi. Hasse's music is in many ways 'modern'. It
is relatively simple: the strings often play unisono with each other
or with the singer. The ideal was for the music to be simple and to
follow the text as flexibly as possible. In addition to the intermezzo
a 6-part concerto grosso by Michelle Mascitti from 1727 has been
recorded, but composed in the style of Corelli. That is interesting,
since it shows how far Hasse has gone from the then still dominant
style of composing.
Scintilla is sung by the soprano Graciela Oddone, born in Buenos
Aires; she has a broad repertoire from baroque to the 20th century.
She has sung in Monteverdi's Orfeo, Alessandro Scarlatti's Il primo
omicidio and Mozarts Cosě fan tutte under René Jacobs.
The role of Tabarano is sung by the bass-baritone Lorenzo Regazzo,
born in Venice, who is also involved in baroque as well as
contemporary music. He has worked with René Jacobs and Marc Minkowski.
The orchestra is the Ensemble Arcadia, directed by Attilio Cremonesi.
It consists of 8 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, double bass, 2 horns and
The problem with an intermezzo is that the acting is far more
important than the music. There are hardly any virtuoso arias like in
the opera seria. The humorous character is very difficult to
communicate without seeing anything. Therefore the singers have to do
everything they can to make it convincing. In that respect I am
somewhat disappointed by this recording. The piece begins with an aria
of Tabarano, in which he makes a fool of himself by admiring his looks
in the mirror and his own dancing abilities. I think that a singer can
do more with this text than Lorenzo Regazzo does.
It says: Alla vita, al portamento sembro giusto un ballarino. Ha, ha,
ta, ra, la, questo vezzo, quest'inchino č un incanto! uno spavento!
Ah, che passo di minuč! (From my waist, from my deportment I really
look like a dancer: Ha, ha, ta, ra, la, This grace: this bow; it's a
delight! it's a fright! Ah, what a minuet step!)
I can only imagine what singers like Michael Schopper (brilliant in
Telemann's Pimpinone or (as Sancho Pansa) in Don Quichotte) or David
Thomas would do with such a piece! In the second part, where he sings
in disguise as a Turkish pirate, he is far more convincing. But even
there something is missing.
Graciela Oddone is slightly better in her characterisation of
Scintilla. At the start I had some problems with her voice but I got
used to it, although is certainly not my first choice for baroque
The orchestra sounds rather thin - and it is very vulnerable since a
lot of the music is played unisono. The intonation is not impeccable
and the sound sometimes a little unpolished.
This is certainly an interesting recording, in particular because it
shows how Hasse in his early days already moved in a new direction and
turned to a new musical language. It shows how large the distance is
between Hasse and his contemporaries Bach and Handel. But
unfortunately the fun of this piece doesn't quite come across.
Johan van Veen (© 1999)