Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s celebrated baroque farce “La Serva Padrona” (“The Maid Made Mistress”) has been re-imagined in contemporary Hong Kong. Sung in Italian with spoken dialogue in English, this one-act comedy is as bubbly as a glass of prosecco and just as intoxicating.
With “Waitress on Top”, the creative team of Peter Gordon and Marco Iannelli set out to prove that opera is for everyone.
In Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s 1733 comic opera La Serva Padrona (“The Maid Made Mistress”), a maid sets her sights on her boss, and through a combination of flirtatious behaviour and well-meant duplicity, convinces him that he has really loved her all along. It is, of course, a story that has played out in many times and many places. The work is small and intimate with a deceptive simplicity that belies the sophistication of the music, allowing a fusion between comic theatre and comic opera.
This new “operatic musical” by Gordon and Iannelli (with story and dialogue based on a play by Peter Gordon), takes Pergolesi’s sly, wry and perky arias and duets and augments them with arias from Gaetano Donizetti’s classic comic operas “Don Pasquale” and “La figlia del reggimento”.
The story in an Italian restaurant … somewhere in Hong Kong (but it could just as easily be Shanghai, Singapore or Manchester). Uberto is the very uptight Italian boss and maitre d’, while Serpina is the not-very-conscientious local young woman he’s hired as waitress and who causes him no end of trouble. There’s another fellow working there but we’re not sure where he’s from because no one ever allows him to say anything.