The enamoured brother, or the brother in love
EXCERPT (Janet Baker)
ARRANGED MARRIAGES ARRAIGNED
MATRIMONY FOR BROTHER AND SISTER
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LO FRATE ‘NNAMORATO (The enamoured brother} Pergolesi (1710-36! )
Giovanni Battista (John Baptist) Pergolesi is celebrated for his beautiful Stabat Mater (the mother would also be weeping for him, who had a shorter life than Jesus) which was composed in the year of his death (1736); and famous for his little opera (a mere intermezzo) La Serva Padrona (the bossy servant-girl, or the servant mistress, but this is ambiguous; 1733); and The brother in love is the second (1732) of his half-dozen operas, and it belongs in the category of comic.
Marcaniello, an elderly Neapolitan gentleman
Don Pietro, his foppish son
Ascanio, his son by adoption
Luggrezia, his daughter
Cardella, his maid-servant
Don Carlo, a Roman bourgeois
Nina and Nena, his nieces and wards
Vannella, his maid-servant
Orchestra and chorus of Teatro alla Scala (Milano) conducted by Riccardo Muti (1989)
Let’s see if we can sort this lot out.
The setting is on Capodimonte Hill in Naples, and we hear the Neapolitan dialect.
Two families are spending the summer holidays together, in Marcaniello’s house.
The two men have planned some arranged marriages.
Marcaniello will wed Nina; and his son Don Pietro will have Nena.
Carlo will marry Luggrezia.
Naturally, the three women have other ideas.
Ascanio (stolen from his family in childhood) is an adopted son of Marcaniello.
Ascanio is the enamoured brother of the title; he is in love with all three (Luggrezia, Nina, Nena), and they all secretly have a passion for him.
1] The maids Vannella (she speaks first) and Cardella are chatting as they work; they discuss the impending weddings.
2] Don Pietro, Marcaniello’s son, has returned from studying in Rome; he dances a minuet, admires himself in a hand-mirror, and courts the two servant-girls in a strange language, basically Neapolitan with French and other intrusions.
3] Don Carlo comes and talks to Don Pietro about the planned marriages; Cardella tells them that she would also like to get married, right away.
4] The maids announce that neither Luggrezia nor Nena want to see their suitors, Carlo and Pietro, respectively; the latter departs in a sulk (after singing his aria).
5] Don Carlo warns his nieces against shirking their duty.
6, 7] Nina and Nena are unhappy; they have lost their father, and are now under the tyranny of their uncle; and their brother was taken from them long ago; we learn that they are rivals in love, for Ascanio.
8] Marcaniello, Luggrezia, and Ascanio now take over the revolving stage (with some shifting of scenery). She tells her father that she refuses to be yoked to Don Carlo. He is enraged because Nina will therefore be denied to him; he is suffering from gout, notice.
9] Luggrezia confronts Ascanio; his apparent lack of interest is distressing her.
10] Ascanio is also troubled, because she is his sister (but his love would not be incestuous).
11] Don Pietro playfully woos Vannella (Carlo’s maid) and she joins in the flirting game; they are interrupted by his father (not impressed), and also his intended, Nena (so he is not worthy of her). Nena scolds Vannella, but she protests her innocence (in an aria), and shoos him (sciù, sciù).
12] Nina intervenes, and Pietro wrongly decides that both sisters are in love with him. His father’s rage, exacerbated by gout, is vented on him, but he says it is his beauty that is to blame.
13] Luggrezia laments over her love-sickness for Ascanio.
14] Cardella rightly sees that Luggrezia rejects Don Carlos because her love is for someone else.
15] Marcaniello meets Vannella, who remarks on his age and his gout. Nina arrives, feigning jealousy and spurning her intended; he protests his love for her.
16] Vannella is impressed by Nina’s cunning ploy, and she praises the wiliness of women.
17] Don Pietro wants Ascanio to intercede with Nena for him; but when he approaches her on this errand she confesses her love for him, to the consternation of Don Pietro.
18] Nena and Nina confront Ascanio and demand that he choose, but he loves them both. Luggrezia hears this and parts from Ascanio; she withdraws into the house.
19] Don Carlo is uneasy about his proposed relationship with Luggrezia.
20] Cardella has rouged the face of Don Pietro and he is not pleased.
21] The three men in the arranged marriages (Don Pietro with his red face, Don Carlo with his indignant daughters, and Marcaniello with his unhelpful children and his painful gout) have lost their suits, and they are mocked by the two servant girls in a rollicking finale.
22] Nena, one of the sisters from Rome ponders on her pangs of love for Ascanio.
23] Ascanio is likewise perturbed by his love for his sister Luggrezia ( by adoption) and the two Roman girls.
24] Marcaniello and his son Don Pietro witness a furious argument between the two maids: their own Cardella (spitting vituperation in Neapolitan dialect) and Vannella (spurting Roman Italian). Cardella sings an aria and goes.
25] Don Pietro attempts to teach Vannella (who does not need any lessons) how to “make love” (comical duet)
26] From a distinguishing mark (as always) on Ascanio’s arm, Don Carlo recognizes him as his brother’s lost son, and thus the long lost sibling of Nina and Nena, hence the natural affection they all share.
Ascanio can marry Luggrezia, and all other planned matrimonial arrangements are abandoned.