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date: 25 August 2019

Pasticcio (It.: ‘jumble’, ‘hotch-potch’, ‘pudding’; Fr. pastiche)locked

  • Curtis Price


(It.: ‘jumble’, ‘hotch-potch’, ‘pudding’; Fr. pastiche)

An opera made up of various pieces from different composers or sources and adapted to a new or existing libretto. The practice began in the late 17th century but the term came into general use only after about 1730 to describe an opera seria or buffa, typically based on popular librettos of Metastasio or Goldoni. Arias were selected mainly by the singers in a given production, the recitatives and ensembles being supplied by the house composer, music director or even the theatre manager.

As applied to opera, the term was at first somewhat pejorative. J.J. Quantz, during a visit to Florence in 1725 (though writing in 1755), heard several operas ‘patched together with arias of various masters, which is called “pastry” by the Italians, “un pasticcio”’. The verb form was used more loosely to describe the process of revision. In 1735, when Vivaldi asked Goldoni to fit aria texts into an existing libretto, the poet said he had to ‘accommodate or cook up the drama’ to the composer’s taste, ‘for better or worse’ (‘accomodare o impasticciare il Dramma a suo gusto, per mettervi bene o male le Arie’). During the second half of the 18th century the pasticcio acquired a degree of respectability. In ...

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Journal of the American Musicological Society
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
Musical Quarterly
Sammelbände der Internationalen Musik-Gesellschaft
Die Musikforschung
C. Burney: A General History of Music from the Earliest Ages to the Present Period (London, 1776-89); ed. F. Mercer (London, 1935/R) [p. nos. refer to this edn]
Analecta musicologica