La serva padrona / Alfred, Alfred
I Teatri di Reggio Emilia

Alfred, Alfred / La serva padrona

Donatoni / Pergolesi
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This double bill from I Teatri Reggio Emila sets theatrical farce in intimate spaces. Alfred, Alfred, comes from the experience in hospital of its composer, Franco Donatoni, in 1992: a journey suspended between the surreal intimate visions of a patient and the reality of hospital life. Written three centuries earlier, Pergolesi’s La serva padrona offers a picture of domestic antics, where a shrewd maid outwits her grumpy master into marrying her.

A kind of complementarity links the two operas. La serva padrona launched the genre of the intermezzo (precursor of opera buffa) in the mid-17800s on a European scale, not least because of the debate that flared up among philosophers (including Rousseau) about the virtues of staging the triviality of daily life with ordinary characters. Alfred, Alfred is also subtitled, not coincidentally, ‘intermezzo’, the name Donatoni chose to highlight the farcical potential of an immobilised patient at the centre of a bustling hospital - at a time when buffoonery in the musical theatre of the late 20th century had somewhat fallen into disuse. Both operas are bold artistic statements to question theatrical traditions of their respective periods. Even the distance in musical language between the two works conceals correspondences in the ways each evokes caricature and irony; the viscous softness of Pergolesi’s strings find correspondence in Donatoni’s shrill asymmetrical tinkling. OperaVision is live in Reggio Emilia for this unusual pairing conceived by Muta Imago, directed by Claudia Sorace with Dario Garegnani conducting the Icarus Ensemble.


Icarus Ensemble
Dario Garegnani
Muta Imago
Director and sets
Claudia Sorace
Riccardo Fazi
Light and video design
Maria Elena Fusacchia
Ettore Lombardi
Costume Assistant
Caterina Rossi

Alfred, Alfred

Nurse Ann
Maria Eleonora Caminada
Nurse Eleonor
Matilde Lazzaroni
Nurse Josephine
Elena Coscia
Nurse Eileen
Elena Tereshchenko
Chief Nurse
Chiara Ersilia Trapani
Doc. Prof. Alfred Sovicki
Michele Gianquinto
Doc. Bilenski
Niccolò Roda
Maristella degli Spiri
Samantha Faina
Tosca Fosca la Formosa
Clara La Licata
Rosa Shock
Liga Liedskalnina
Friends of Franco Donatoni and students (mimes)
Matilde Bignamini
Filippo Beltrami
Gabriele Matté
Franco Donatoni (silent role)
Giuseppe De Luca
Music and text
Franco Donatoni

La serva padrona

Samantha Faina
Giuseppe De Luca
Vespone (silent role)
Gabriele Mattè
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
Gennaro Antonio Federico



Sneak peek at Alfred, Alfred / La serva padrona

A double bill about a composer turned patient and the maid turned mistress

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Behind the scenes

An introduction to Alfred, Alfred / La serva padrona

Director Claudia Sorace and conductor Dario Garegnani introduces Fondazione I Teatri di Reggio Emilia's double bill: Alfred, Alfred by Franco Donatoni and La serva padrona by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, two bold artistic statements to question theatrical traditions of their respective periods.

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Alfred, Alfred has its origin from a hospitalisation experience of Franco Donatoni in 1992: a journey suspended between the surreality of the visions of a sick person and the reality of hospital life, which is equally surreal. Divided into six scenes and six intermezzos, the libretto starts from the dialogues of everyday hospital life, where the patient/Donatoni stands out in his bed, while life happens all around him.

La serva padrona sees Uberto, a grumpy and taciturn old bachelor, tired of the whims and bullying of Serpina, his cunning young servant, who decides to restore the correct roles within the household by pretending to want to marry someone else. Jealous Serpina announces in turn, with the complicity of the mute servant Vespone, her marriage to Captain Tempesta. Dismayed at this news, Uberto realises he is in love with Serpina. Soon the fake Captain Tempesta shows up threateningly to claim the girl’s dowry, and threatens Uberto warning him that if he refuses, he will have to marry her himself. Driven partly by fear and partly by love for Serpina, Uberto allows himself to be extorted for the promise of marriage. The hoax is then revealed, Captain Tempesta is none other than Vespone in disguise, but it is now too late, Serpina has climbed from servant to mistress.