Baretti, Giuseppe (Marc’Antonio)
- Iain Fenlon
(b Turin, April 25, 1719; d Marylebone, London, May 5, 1789). Italian man of letters. His Fetonte sulle rive del Po was set by G.A. Giai (1750, Turin). In January 1751 he left Italy, where he had a considerable literary reputation, for an appointment at the Italian Opera in London. Shortly after his arrival he wrote two facetious pamphlets relating to a dispute between the actors and the lessee of the Opera. He adapted selected odes of Horace as a sort of Masonic oratorio. Seeking a composer able to avoid the vocal clichés and long ritornellos of Italian opera and ‘to temper alternately the solemnity of church music with the brilliancy of the theatrical’, Baretti chose Philidor, with whom he discussed ‘every syllable … with respect to the best way of expressing musically the meaning of Horace’. Carmen saeculare was performed in London in 1779 and in Paris the year after. Baretti wrote in his copy of Johnson’s ...