Different strokes: S’altro che lagrime (Galuppi, Gluck)
So how do you like that under the radar spitfire Servillia? She has two moments of ballsiness that put everybody else in that opera to shame. Act I – she actually refuses Tito’s marriage proposal and does it in such a tactful way that he would fall in love with her then and there had he not been hopelessly into her brother, Act II – tells Vitellia off in no uncertain terms in this very aria.
Mozart’s Servillia is an intelligent young woman who has had enough experience in the top circles of the Imperial court to know how to convey a message without getting her head chopped off. Here she’s rather elegantly appealing to whatever humanity Vitellia might possess. There is a drop of darkness and alarm in there. But that’s not the only take on this character.
Galuppi: gathers nuts in May. Beautiful music and bouncy rhythm without drama yet again. Servillia sounds gently lyrical but not overly concerned with her brother’s fate. Maybe it’s meant to illustrate that Classical World fatalism? – but 79AD Imperial Rome is already removed from that. Kidding aside, Galuppi fails yet again.
Gluck: this Servillia has lost patience, if she ever had it. She’s pretty much shouting at Vitellia stupid cow, do something!!! Good on Gluck for expressing emotion, even though I find it a bit crude.