“Pimpinone, or The Unequal Marriage”—Georg Philipp Telemann’s greatest operatic success—has since its premiere been performed in numerous productions. Encouraged by the popularity of his work, the artist even composed a follow-up. The storyline is as old as time itself, and focuses on the hilarious vicissitudes of a wealthy bachelor manipulated by an attractive maidservant. At times, the opera comes close to a farce, and the elaborate music score is teeming with rhythm and humour.
Vespetta is a cunning maidservant looking for a wealthy and naïve husband who can lift her up from the humiliations of plebeian life. The young chambermaid manages to twist old Pimpinone around her little finger: the bachelor gives her the keys to his money-chest and marries the girl. The charming creature soon turns into a termagant whose only goal is to get rich fast and improve her social status. This is a cruel farce, without any trace of the delusion of love. When the new lady of the house parades around town in dashing dresses, her old husband is reduced to trembling at the thought of her hellish temper and meticulously planned intrigues.
The production makes use of the historical setting of the Branicki Palace in Białystok—once one of the most beautiful seats of magnates in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The opera is staged in the Aula Magna. Two contemporary characters, doorkeepers, were introduced to the plot of this Baroque work: the historical props come to life in their presence, the actors introduce an element of comedy and engage the audience in the fun. The soloists are accompanied by the “Consort 415” Early Music Ensemble of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic, which specializes in Baroque music (the musicians perform on copies of period instruments belonging to A. Stradivarius, N. Amati and G. Dal Salo).
World premiere: 27 IX 1725, Hamburg, Theater am Gänsemarkt
Premiere: 10–11 V 2013, Aula Magna of Branicki Palace in Białystok