Santa Pelagia (The Stradella Project, vol. 4)
Ensemble Mare Nostrum, Andrea de Carlo (dir.)
Roberta Mameli (Santa Pelagia, soprano), Raffaele Pe (Religione, contratenor), Luca Cervoni (Nonno, tenor), Sergio Foresti (Mondo, basse)
With this fourth instalment of the Stradella Project, Andrea De Carlo and Ensemble Mare Nostrum continue their exploration of the oratorio output, following the recent rediscoveries of San Giovanni Crisostomo and Santa Editta.
A pretty dancing-girl at the imperial court of Antioch in Syria, Pelagia, is the object of rivalry between an evil angel, Mondo (the World), urging her to enjoy life to the full before old age destroys her beauty, and Bishop Nonno of Edessa, who with the help of a good angel, Religione, invites her to a life in the service of God. Pelagia succumbs to the flattery offered by Mondo, but just as the latter is celebrating his victory, she retires unexpectedly to a lonely cave in the wilderness where she can dedicate the rest of her life to the loving service of God. Stradella cannot resist revealing his point of view about this sudden change, giving the oratorio a surprise ending.
Soprano Roberta Mameli offers us a complex and seductive portrayal of the title role, surrounded by a distinguished cast including Sergio Foresti as Mondo, Raffaele Pe as Religione and Luca Cervoni as Nonno.
As in previous instalments, the recording was made within the framework of the Alessandro Stradella International Festival in Nepi, the composer’s birthplace.