Detail from the autograph of the Cantata pastorale, 1716: Non sò qual più m'ingombra
Source: Musiksammlung der Staatsbibliothek, Berlin
Detail from the autograph score of Cantata da camera: Ombre tacite e sole, 31.10.1716
Source: British Library
Both the above cantatas are available for purchase through this site.
The Composer's Words
'I have marked ... at necessary places the louds and softs of the instruments, which are the only means of making that chiaroscuro which makes singing and playing attractive.'
(A. Scarlatti, on his opera, Il Gran Tamerlano 1706.)
|Introduction to British Library Manuscript Add 29484
Written by the collector in the fly-leaf of this manuscript. An interesting contemporary view.
Contributor: James Sanderson
In the front pages of a collection of early (ca 1710) cantatas by Porpora, Marcello and Handel in the
British Library (Add 29484) the following is written in the hand of the
"At Lincoln's Inn Fields Porpora was the composer and conductor. His first opera there: Ariadne, Ferdinando, Temistofle, Siface, Meride, Arianna, 1717
Also masses and motets for the Incurabili Conservatorio at Venice in high estimation
In all 50 operas
Porpora died at Naples, the place of his nativity, in 1767 aged 82 in great indigence
Porpora was a scholar of Alexander Scarlatti as was also Dom. Scarlatti, Vinci, Varro, Hasse, Leo, Pergolesi etc.
Vinci was Porpora's rival
Haydn (who was born in 1733) was for 5 months a scholar of Porpora's for singing and composition for voices."
Then next page in the same hand:
"The Cantatas of Nicolo Porpora have been always much esteemed, on account of the excellence of their Recitatives, and the good taste and truly vocal style
of the airs. But by confining himself rigidly in his Songs and Cantatas to such passages as are only fit for the Voice, his Cantatas will seem to want spirit when tried upon an Instrument. And perhaps the art is more indebted to this master for having polished and refined Recitative and measured Air, than by enriching it by the fertility of his invention....Porpora's Cantatas particularly the Recitatives, are still regarded in Italy as models of perfection for narrative Music. He was long esteemed the best Singing-Master in Europe, and was fortunate in the Voices he had to form, particularly in that of Farinelli, Mingolli etc. All were proud of owning him their Master whether Princesses or Professors."