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LABELS: Opus 111 Tesori di Napoli
WORKS: La finta cameriera
PERFORMER: Roberta Invernizzi, Cinzia Rizzone, Maria Ercolano, Giuseppe de Vittorio, Francesca Russo Ermolli, Stefano di Fraia, Giuseppe Naviglio, Pierre Thirion Vallet; La Capella de’Turchini/Antonio Florio
To compare Latilla’s 1738 La finta cameriera with Vinci’s 1722 Li zite ’ngalera, its predecessor in Opus 111’s Tesori di Napoli series, is to see how opera buffa in Naples began to move away from its roots in commedia dell’arte and develop a more sophisticated musical language. Vinci’s opera has more comic knockabout, Latilla’s a greater variety of arias.


Latilla’s score was premiered in Naples in 1737 under the title Gismondo. Retitled, and with a virtually new libretto, it reopened in Rome in 1738 and became a hit throughout Europe, although a drastically cut version flopped in Paris in 1752. This new recording is also heavily cut, 44 arias reduced to 22, but given the variable quality of the music, that may represent sensible pruning. Still, there are several charming comic arias, and a handful of others, altogether more elaborate, that elicit dazzling vocal virtuosity – ‘Agitato il mio cor’ and ‘Chi non cura’ are the outstanding examples, thrilling pieces with a Vivaldian panache. The plot, less farcical and frenetic than Vinci’s, still involves the customary unlikely romantic entanglements and disguised lovers. La Cappella de’Turchini, experts in this repertoire, perform with winning zest; Roberta Invernizzi and Francesca Russo Ermolli stand out among the fine soloists. Graham Lock