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Rudolf A. Rasch

(b Amsterdam, Nov 16, 1664; d Batavia, Dutch East Indies, Oct 4, 1721). Netherlands poet and playwright . Born into a wealthy family, he studied law in Leiden and Utrecht. He was one of the most important and prolific Netherlands poets and playwrights of the decades around 1700, although his works are now little esteemed. He wrote numerous song texts, as well as librettos for ...

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Jérôme de La Gorce

(b Orléans, c1670; d Paris, 1745). French dramatist. After writing four tragedies for the Thé âtre Français, she is thought to have collaborated with the Abbé Pellegrin, who gave her advice, on several librettos: Les fêtes de l’été (1716), set by Montéclair, and Le judgement de Pâris...

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Margaret Murata

(b Cupramontana, Jan 11, 1596; d Rome, Oct 16, 1653). Italian librettist. After studying at the Collegio Romano he was active in Roman literary circles from the 1620s. He was secretary to Francesco Peretti (later Cardinal Montalto) by 1630 and to Camillo Pamphili (1644–7), before serving Pope Innocent X as ...

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Lowell Lindgren

(b Vignola, nr Modena, June 30, 1672; d Bologna, Jan 19, 1714). Italian librettist. From his youth he was a close friend of the scholar Lodovico Muratori in Modena. He became a member of the Accademia dell’Arcadia in Rome in 1691, taking the name Cromiro Dianio; his later tragedies and musical dramas reflect many of the refining and purifying ideals of the Arcadians. In his twenties, he served various noblemen in northern Italy and in Paris, where he resided between June and September 1699. In July 1701 he was named to succeed Niccolò Minato as an imperial poet in Vienna, after Zeno had refused the honour. Here he served first Leopold I, together with the poet Donato Cupeda (d 1704) then Joseph I, together with Silvio Stampiglia. Muratori’s letters reveal that Bernardoni returned to Italy when war ravaged Vienna in 1703–4, then again in 1706–7. He retired with an imperial pension in ...

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Harris S. Saunders

(b Venice; fl 1675–81). Italian librettist . His first libretto was for the Teatro ai Saloni, a small Venetian theatre used by academics for plays and only intermittently for opera. On the title-page, he styles himself the somnolent follower of Tasso (‘sonnolento tassista’), in his letter to the reader, he emphasizes that he is not a professional. His two other librettos were for successive seasons at the Teatro S Angelo. In all three works the emphasis is on lively, often comic, stage interaction, with plots loosely based on history. Odoacre, for example, mixes matters of war, love and succession and illustrates the havoc wrought by the tyrant Odoacer conqueror of Rome. Set by Giovanni Varischino Odoacre proved to be one of the most popular operas of the 1680s. Because of its modest staging requirements it could be easily mounted, even on provincial stages, and within seven years of its Venetian première it was produced in nine other towns. The last production under the original title was in Naples (...

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Alison Stonehouse

(b Albi, 1618; d Paris, July 22, 1688). French dramatist . Over a period of 50 years he wrote 23 plays, 14 of them tragedies, the rest machine-plays and comedies. He wrote the libretto for one opera, Méduse (C. H. Gervais, 1697); mainly in alexandrine verse, its plot revolves around Medusa’s love for Perseus and her jealous reaction to his love for Ismene. Boyer viewed Méduse as a tragedy set to music–a play to which intermèdes were added and in which spectacle was an important element. There are similarities with Metastasian drama in his plays Artaxerce, Porus, ou La générosité d’Alexandre and La mort de Démétrius; the last is echoed in Metastasio’s Antigono rather than Demetrio. Boyer’s Agamemnon was the source for the opera Cassandre (1706, Paris; music by Bouvard and Bertin de la Doué, libretto by Lagrange- Chancel), and Ulysse shows parallels with Rebel’s opera of the same name (...

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Michael Talbot

(b Ferrara, 1682; d Ferrara, July 26, 1752). Italian librettist. By profession he was a lawyer; most of his activity as a librettist took place during a period of residence in Venice around 1710–15. His earliest libretto was Crisippo, set by Floriano Arresti in 1710. The next year saw the appearance of his Armida in Damasco (G. Rampini), the first of nine librettos exclusively for the Venetian theatre of S Angelo. The best known of these are Orlando furioso and Orlando finto pazzo (both set by Vivaldi). The last of his librettos was Alessandro fra le Amazoni. After his return to Ferrara Braccioli ended his involvement with opera but remained active in other literary fields. He was a member of the Roman Arcadia under the name of Nigello Preteo. In his adaptation for the operatic stage of episodes from the epics of Ariosti, Boiardo and Tasso he showed imagination and ingenuity, managing to preserve something of the liveliness of his sources amid a ‘reforming’ literary climate quite alien in spirit....

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Caroline Wood

(b Toulouse, 1656; d Toulouse, May 11, 1723). French librettist. He approached the operatic stage having already had success with conventional tragedy (he had adopted Racine as his mentor on arriving in Paris). For the Duc de Vendôme he wrote the pastorale Acis et Galatée, which was set to music by Lully and first performed at the Chateau d’Anet. The duke rewarded him with a sinecure and pensions. Achille et Polyxène, in the more conventional form of the tragédie en musique, was commissioned by Lully, whose regular librettist Quinault had retired from the scene. Lully wrote only one act before he died, but the work was completed by Collasse. Campistron had continued success with his tragédies and was admitted to the Académie Française in 1701, though he made only one more foray into opera before returning to the provinces. His style reflects his theatrical roots: the spectacular and decorative trappings of opera are grafted on to verses fashioned more for spoken declamation than for singing....

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(b Rome, 1615–20; d probably in Rome, 1692–5). Italian composer. He was first an organist at the German College, Rome (1643–5), and later a violinist at S Luigi dei Francesi (1649–70). By 1653 he was also in the service of Prince Ludovisio Pamphili, nephew of Pope Innocent X, and his reputation as a composer must have become well established by then through his many fine cantatas. Evidently he was known to the poet Francesco Buti and to Cardinal Antonio Barberini, for it was through them that he received Cardinal Mazarin’s invitation to compose an opera for the French court. After his sojourn at the French court, from January to June 1654, he entered Barberini’s musical household where he was employed until about 1664.

Caproli’s opera Le nozze di Peleo e di Theti, a commedia to a libretto by Buti, was first given at the Petit Bourbon on ...

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Harris S. Saunders

(b Venice, 1677; fl Venice, 1710–32). Italian librettist. He wrote five librettos for various Venetian theatres between 1710 and 1727, and one for Chioggia (Climene) in 1721. Three were for Albinoni, for whom he also provided a text celebrating Charles VI’s name-day, Il nome glorioso in terra, santificato in cielo (1724). He also provided Marcello with the texts for two dramatic works performed outside the context of the opera house, Arianna and Psiche. II tiranno eroe deals with the same Roman dictator as Handel’s Silla (1713, London), but Cassani’s libretto did not provide a direct model for that work. Cassani conforms to the elevated libretto style of his day, carefully distinguishing between historical elements and his own invention. He criticized the necessity of bowing to the demands of impresarios and singers.

Il tiranno eroe, Albinoni, 1710 (A. M. Bononcini, 1715); Cleomene, Albinoni, carn. 1718; ...

Article

Carlo Vitali and Juliane Riepe

[Giulietto ]

(b Rome, c1668; d Rome, Feb 19, 1755). Italian soprano castrato and composer. He was already a member of the Congregazione dei Musici di Roma in 1683, and in 1684 was in the cappella of St Mark’s, Venice; in the 1683–4 season he appeared at the Teatro di S Bartolomeo, Naples. He studied with Colonna (and possibly Pistocchi) in Bologna and in 1688 joined the Accademia Filarmonica and the cappella of S Petronio. Between 1683 and 1692 he was among the singers of S Maria Maggiore, Rome. In 1696 he took part in Perti’s Penelope la casta and Furio Camillo in Rome. During the following two years Cavalletti sang in Florence and Pratolino, and between 1698 and 1703 he was virtuoso di camera to the Duchess of Laurenzano. During this period he was granted leave to sing in Naples; at the Teatro di S Bartolomeo he performed in Scarlatti’s ...

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Carmela Bongiovanni

(b Lucca, 1680; d Lucca, Feb 2, 1753). Italian composer. Between 1710 and 1722 there were at least five different performances of his sacred works in Lucca; after this his musical activity there seems to have ceased, beginning again in 1741 after the performance of his opera Solone. His music was also heard in Venice, Bologna and above all Genoa, where between 1724 and 1740 there were at least 23 performances of his operas and oratorios in the two theatres, the S Agostino and the Falcone, and in the church of S Filippo Neri. In addition, Chiocchetti is listed as direttore della musica of S Agostino in a libretto of the opera Arrenione (1724). Perhaps on this evidence, Gerber and others have attributed the music to Chiocchetti; in his capacity as maestro al cembalo he could have composed some of its arias. Except for two arias, only the librettos remain as evidence of his prolific activity in opera and oratorio....

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Harris S. Saunders

(fl Venice, 1684–98). Italian librettist. Little is known about him other than that he was a priest. He wrote six librettos for various Venetian theatres and at least two oratorios. The first two and last two librettos are based on history, but La fortuna tra le disgrazie is entirely his own invention. Set in Persia in its original production at the Teatro S Angelo, it was set in Sicily when it was restaged a year later at the Teatro S Salvatore for, as the letter to the reader asserts, the setting is not an essential element of the drama. A detailed description of the original staging is found in Pallade veneta (January 1688). Falsirena, based on Marino’s Adone, proved to be his greatest success; it was restaged in Venice the year after its première and in eight other Italian cities during the next decade. The original production boasted spectacular stage effects, for which Tomaso Bezzi was responsible. Cialli’s last libretto marked Lotti’s début as an opera composer....

Article

[Margarita ]

(b Rome; fl 1629–57). Italian singer and poetess, sister of Anna Francesca Costa. Her rather chequered career as a talented courtesan led her from Rome through Florence (1629), Rome (1644), Turin (1645) and Paris (1647) before returning again to her native city; her patrons included the Medici (in particular, Grand Duke Ferdinando II), the Barberini and Cardinal Mazarin. Her rivalry with another Roman soprano, Cecca del Padule, was reputed to have inspired Domenico Mazzocchi’s La catena d’Adone (1626), although she did not take part in the performance. Costa’s numerous publications include poetry, letters, a comedy (Li buffoni, Florence, 1641), a libretto for a Festa reale per balletto a cavallo (Paris, 1647, with a dedication to Mazarin: it had been offered to Grand Duke Ferdinando II in 1640), and two opera librettos, La Flora feconda (Florence, ...

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Herbert Seifert

(b ?Naples, c 1661; d Vienna, Dec 27, 1704). Italian librettist . He was appointed substitute for the court poet Minato on 1 Jan 1694 by Emperor Leopold I and succeeded to that position in March 1698, by which year he was also a member of the emperor’s literary academy. In his first year at court he wrote only the text for an oratorio and a dramatic chamber composition. The preface to the carnival opera of 1695, Amore dà senno, describes the work as his first opera libretto (earlier dates cited by Weilen are incorrect). Until his early death Cupeda wrote texts for three-act operas, serenatas and cantatas set by Antonio Draghi, C. A. Badia, Giovanni Bononcini, Marc’Antonio Ziani, J. J. Fux and Attilio Ariosti. The subjects of his librettos are taken from mythology and from Greek, Roman and medieval history. They are reworked with considerable freedom; love affairs and comic episodes, for example, increase in importance....

Article

(b ?Gloucester, c1741; d Paris, Dec 27, 1780). English or Irish librettist. According to the Correspondance littéraire, he entered military service and was sent to Jamaica during the Seven Years War. After extended travels in Europe he arrived in Paris around 1770, and met Jean-Baptiste Suard, whose special interest was English writing. Suard apparently made him a close friend, and recommended him to Grétry as a man of wit and originality (Garat 1820). He had by then very little money, and was known for his eccentricity. Grétry called him ‘as phlegmatic as he was tender in affairs of the heart’, and noted that he turned author ‘from necessity’.

D’Hèle had completed Le jugement de Midas, based on an English burletta by Kane O’Hara, when he first came to Grétry to discuss another libretto derived from an English source, L’amant jaloux. Grétry already knew D’Hèle’s acute dramatic judgment at first hand from discussions in the theatre, and they formed an immediate partnership. D’Hèle’s three librettos for Grétry are remarkable achievements of refinement and comedy. The first two utterly transform their English originals through polished, economical stagecraft, and create dialogue that was quickly recognized as an exemplar of ironic humour. The musical portions, if not predominant, are incorporated with skill, taking extensive responsibility for the drama in the ensembles. All three librettos created memorable characters and situations....

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Harris S. Saunders

(b Veneto region; d Venice, June 30, 1698). Italian librettist. A doctor of medicine, he belongs, with Zeno, to the first generation of reform librettists. He was among the earliest members of the Accademia degli Animosi, in which he used the name Osiro Cedreatico, and was patronized by several important Italian families. Although his lyric poetry dates from the 1670s, he did not enter the operatic field until 1691 when he wrote L’amante eroe for the Teatro S Salvatore. His other two librettos were for the Teatro S Giovanni Grisostomo.

David’s dramas stand out in the company of contemporary Venetian music dramas because of their pronounced moral tone and the purposeful disposition of the dramatic action. In the letter to the reader in L’amante eroe, he expressed concern about the excessive number of arias and the need for more recitative ‘in order to move the affections’. Metastasio’s first libretto, ...

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Michael Talbot

(b Venice, Sept 23, 1689; d ?Moscow, after 1763). Italian tenor, impresario and librettist . He sang at Venice and elsewhere in Italy between 1715 and 1723, at first taking leading roles such as Artabanus in Vivaldi’s La costanza trionfante degli amori e degli odii (Venice, Carnival 1716), but within a few years singing only minor parts. In 1724 the impresario Antonio Maria Peruzzi engaged Denzio to assemble a company of singers in Venice and bring them to Prague, where they performed in the theatres of Count Franz Anton von Sporck. Peruzzi’s financial mismanagement of the company led to his being replaced as impresario by Denzio late in that year; in the next ten years Denzio staged 57 productions of operas and sacred dramas in Prague, including works by Vivaldi and Albinoni as well as by the troupe’s composers, Antonio Bioni and Giovanni Antonio Guerra. Denzio’s own librettos included ...

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Dorothea Schröder

(b Stellau, nr Itzehoe, 1678; d Tolk, nr Schleswig, Feb 3, 1739). German librettist . He had a humanistic education, studied theology at Wittenberg and established himself at Hamburg in 1702 as a private teacher and writer. His librettos for the Teater am Gänsemarkt (Die betrogene Staats-Liebe, oder … Die unglückselige Cleopatra, Mattheson, 1704; Der in Krohnen erlangte Glücks-Wechsel, oder Almira, Königin von Castilien, Handel, 1705, later set by Keiser, 1706; and Die durch Blut und Mord erlangete Liebe, oder Nero, Handel, 1705) involved him in a literary quarrel with Barthold Feind and Christian Friedrich Hunold (known as Menantes) who criticized some aspects of rhyme and morals. Both parties issued several pamphlets, until Feustking moved to Tolk to take over a parsonage. His merit as a librettist was in the somewhat unconventional characterization of his heroes, who were allowed to be hesitating and weak, giving way to their feelings in beautifully flowing lyrical arias. The starkly contrasting comic scenes were condemned by Chrysander but appear to be an outgrowth of popular traditions....

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(b Rouen, Feb 11, 1657; d Paris, Jan 9, 1757). French librettist. He was a distinguished man of letters whose operas and pastorales form but a small part of his output. Abandoning a career in law, he later claimed to have joined his uncle Thomas Corneille in writing two librettos for Lully while Quinault was in disgrace. His success in the theatre was limited: he was much criticized for the dryness of his verse and his dependence on spectacle. He achieved greater fame as the secretary to the Académie des Sciences, writing biographies of its illustrious members which show his considerable grasp of scientific and philosophical thought. His career spanned nearly eight decades, and he was able to attend a performance of Thétis et Pélée over 60 years after its première.

Psyché (with T. Corneille), J.-B. Lully, 1678; Bellérophon (with Corneille), Lully, 1679; Thétis et Pélée...