Puccini, Rossini, and Vivaldi headline the opening day of the Italian campaign.
With Cavalleria Rusticana still fresh, let’s get the Italian competition started for the World Cup of Composers.
The first pairing is Vivaldi versus Pergolesi. Both these composers were prolific but ended up being “one hit wonders”.
Pergolesi was an important creator of opera buffa in the early 18th Century but it is his Stabat Mater for soprano and alto soloists that remains significant.
Vivaldi does have his Gloria but it remains popular because average to mediocre choirs are able to perform it. There is also the Lute Concerto in D major but the piece we ALL know is The Four Seasons.
Next up is Corelli versus Rossini. This was closer than we might have imagined. First we have Corelli’s first name, Arcangelo, that’s a straight-up baller name. Then we have his 12 Concerto Grosso and his Christmas Concerto which are both delightful.
However, Rossini is a titan. He didn’t even need to field his operas in order to overwhelm Arcangelo. Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Petite Solemn Mass were sufficient to put Corelli to bed.
Puccini versus Palestrina is an interesting pairing because Puccini is so profane while Palestrina is so sacred.
Palestrina was the quintessential composer of Renaissance polyphony. Polyphony is the art or craft of combining two or more simultaneous melodic lines as opposed to homophony with is one dominant melodic line above a chord progression.
Puccini is the quintessential composer of Italian verismo. Verismo mean realism. Puccini’s operas are about everyday people instead of the aristocracy or legends such as. Puccini was also a master of polyphony in a much less purer form than Palestrina.
While Palestrina remains the perfect composer of sacred music, Puccini is the clear victor.