One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


Reger Violin Sonatas
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Brahms Symphony 3
Dvorak Symphony 8
9 cello sonatas
Piano Music

Clara Schumann
piano concerto

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!

Quite splendid

Winning performances

Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc

a huge talent

A wonderful disc

Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!

Roth’s finest Mahler yet

Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)
Il prigionier superbo - musical drama in three acts:-
Sostrate - Antonio Lozano; Rosmene - Marina Rodriguez Cusi; Metalce - Marina De Liso; Ericlea - Ruth Rosique; Viridate - Marina Comparato; Micisda - Giacinta Nicotra
La serva padrona, intermezzo in two parts:-
Serpina - Alessandra Marianelli; Uberto - Carlo Lepore; Vespone - Jean Méningue
Accademia Barocca de I Virtuosi Italiani/Corrado Rovaris
Stage Director - Henning Brockhaus
Recorded at the Teatro G.B Pergolesi, Jesi, 2009 (Prigionier) and 2011 (Serva padrona)
Sound Format PCM Stereo, DD5.1. Picture Format 16:9. Subtitles Italian, English, German, French, Spanish, Korean, Region Code 0 (worldwide). DVD5 + DVD9 NTSC
ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD 101 654 [2 DVDs: 177:00]

As sports pundits would have it, this is very much a question of two halves. In fact it’s a question of two DVDs. Pergolesi’s Il prigionier superbo (The Proud Prisoner) is an opera seria first staged in 1733. Pergolesi also wrote La serva padrona (The Servant Turned Mistress), a comic intermezzo, as an inter-act entertainment for the bigger work. He could hardly have foreseen that the comic work would almost wholly efface the opera seria it was designed to support. Il prigionier superbo dropped like a stone from the repertoire, whilst La serva padrona went on to enjoy considerable cachet. Despite the fact that the same orchestra, conductor and director are involved in both presentations the two works were actually staged two years apart. Thus the intermezzo is not slotted into its inter-act place, as Pergolesi intended, but retains independence on a separate disc. If you did want to experience something of what the original audience did, you will have some disc juggling on your hands.
The comic intermezzo works very well. The action takes place backstage at a circus and features only two singers and a deft turn from a non-singing actor with a taste for slapstick, Jean Méningue. Soprano Alessandra Marianelli is plausible and self-confident, and sings extremely well. The bass is Carlo Lepore, sage and knowing, and a considerable stage animal. Orchestra and conductor dovetail splendidly though the sound could be clearer and instrumental strands could be more refined. Henning Brockhaus’ direction is imaginative, almost cinematic in places and great fun.
These aren’t necessarily qualities that come to mind when considering Il prigionier superbo. I appreciate that the opera involves the Goths, but I’m not sure characters should really be got up as Goth Girls - there’s a whiff of bondage in the foetid cavernous air of the cavern in which the characters are trapped - there is no change of scene. To add to the bizarre staging, large puppets follow, ape and mirror the action - they are moved by very visible puppeteers in black capes. The element of puppet theatre, Goth punkettes, and stylised action adds up to a very strange melange indeed - one on which it’s probably best not to spend too much time. The singing here is consistent, but it’s not consistently excellent. The more virtuosic passages are usually well taken, if subject to worrying discrepancies in pitch, but the slower music lacks tonal breadth. That said, the singers show stylistic niceties and they are considerably better than the production itself. The sound again is a little cloudy.
This is a shame, as the music is not noticeably inferior to Vivaldi’s operatic works and much could be made of Il prigionier in a sensitive staging which respected its contours and sense of theatrical placement. In the end I can only be lukewarm about this set - though I am very much more sympathetic to the excellent La serva padrona. Why couldn’t Brockhaus expend as much wit on the bigger work?
Jonathan Woolf