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Harris S. Saunders

[Giovanni Battista]

(b Bologna; d Aug 11, 1726). Italian librettist. He received a degree in medicine in 1677, but practised for only a short time before turning to writing for a living. He was employed as secretary to Prince Filippo Ercolani, state counsellor to three successive emperors (Leopold I, Joseph I and Charles VI) and imperial ambassador to Venice. After leaving Ercolani’s service he had difficulty supporting himself and died in poverty. Neri wrote seven opera librettos, at least seven oratorios and numerous occasional poems. His opera librettos were for either Bologna or Venice, with the exception of his last and most popular work, L’enigma disciolto, written for Reggio Emilia. All firmly based in seicento style, they do not reflect the tendency towards elevated tone and serious subject matter that characterized Italian libretto writing from the 1690s onwards. His Gige in Lidia was the first libretto set by Domenico Gabrielli, and ...

Article

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

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, ...

Article

(b Verona; fl 1696–1731). Italian librettist. Although he did most of his work for theatres in and around Venice, his first libretto, Briseide, was for Hanover; he revised it for his Venetian début. He usually wrote for small theatres, and most of his works therefore have modest staging requirements, several calling for only five singers. Few of his works are heroic. Between 1703 and 1712 he wrote five librettos for autumn productions in Rovigo, which were usually pastorals in keeping with the season of villeggiatura. In 1703, his first production for Rovigo boasted a well-known singer, Nicola Grimaldi, who sang the same role in 1704 in Naples. Two of his Rovigo works, La costanza nell’onore and Le pazzie degli amanti, were restaged at the Teatro S Fantino, a tiny Venetian theatre that specialized in small-scale works and provided a stage for beginning singers. Between 1717 and 1720 Passarini wrote four original librettos for that theatre, including the last opera presented there. Several of them are set in everyday contexts and involve characters who use Venetian dialect. ...

Article

David Nutter

(b Bovolone, nr Verona, c1550; d ?Venice, c1628). Italian composer and dramatist. His name first occurs in archival records in Verona from May to June 1574 and again a year later, with the ecclesiastic title ‘Don’, in the parish registers of S Maria in Organo, Verona; he probably received his early training in music there with Giammateo Asola. Between 7 February and 16 May 1584 he was assistant chaplain at S Biagio, Bovolone; he then moved to Mantua where he was maestro di canto at the ducal chapel of S Barbara from June 1584 to August 1587. By 1588 he was in Venice where he was retained by the patrician Pietro Pasqualigo in whose house he wrote the tragedy Eutheria (1588); he dedicated his Canzonette (1591) to Pasqualigo’s eldest son, Vettor. The text of one of these, Non mi doglio d’amore, appears in Bozzi’s pastorale ...

Article

Kelley Harness

(b Florence, 1591; bur. Florence, Aug 25, 1634). Italian poet and librettist. He was educated in the Collegio Romano and employed by the Medici family. His first contribution to Medici court entertainments was in 1613, and, according to the court diarist Cesare Tinghi, he was placed on the salary rolls on 23 October 1616. From then until his death he was the principal court poet in Florence. His most significant contribution was to sacred opera, which flourished in Florence from 1621 to 1628. In the argomento to La regina Sant’Orsola (Florence, 1624; lib pubd 1625), his first work in this genre (set by Marco da Gagliano), he claimed to have invented this type of sacred entertainment. His second azzione sacra, La Giuditta (La istoria di Iudit) (1626), with music by Gagliano, was performed in Florence for Cardinal Francesco Barberini and a papal legation that included Rospigliosi; it may have influenced Rospigliosi’s own sacred opera librettos, which began to appear five years later. ...

Article

Harris S. Saunders

(b Padua; fl 1703). Italian librettist . He is sometimes incorrectly called ‘Morani’. He apparently wrote only one libretto, Farnace, which Caldara set for the autumn 1703 season at the Teatro S Angelo in Venice. The dedication is signed by the printer Marino Rossetti and dated 15 November, and manuscript newsletters report that the opera opened on 19 November. Farnace is loosely based on history. There is no record that it was ever restaged in Italy, but in 1723 it formed the basis for the Farnace that Giovanni Bononcini set for the King’s Theatre in London. Morari’s work should not be confused with two other librettos that share the same title: Lalli’s Farnace (first set by C. F. Pollarolo for the Teatro S Cassiano in Venice, 1718) and Lucchini’s Farnace (first set by Vinci for the Teatro Alibert in Rome, 1724). Lucchini’s libretto was set many times....

Article

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 (...

Article

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

Harris S. Saunders

[Fesanio, Merindo ]

(b Venice, fl 1706–34). Italian librettist . He was a Venetian nobleman and a member of the Venetian colony of the Arcadian Academy, the Accademia degli Animosi, in which he used the name Merindo Fesanio. His seven opera librettos were written for various Venetian theatres between 1718 and 1725 (Allacci and Ricci’s references to a Bolognese production of Berenice in 1706 are probably mistaken) and adhere to the elevated principles of the academy. Most are in five acts and labelled tragedia or, in the case of Il pastor fido, tragicommedia. Pasqualigo’s broad knowledge of classical tragedy is clear from his verse translations of Euripides’ Hippolytus and Seneca’s Hippolytus, Oedipus, Medea and Troades, which were published in Venice in 1730. Cimene is based on Corneille’s Le Cid, and Mitridate re di Ponto vincitore di se stesso on Racine’s Mithridate. Two of his librettos had unusually successful careers in Venice: Antigona...

Article

Harris S. Saunders

( fl Venice, 1678–86). Italian librettist . He is referred to as ‘dottor’ in several sources. Between 1678 and 1681 he wrote three librettos, each for a different Venetian theatre. Although his first work is based on mythology (drawing on Count Francesco Berni’s Il ratto di Cefalo and Ovid’s Metamorphoses), his other two are loosely based on history, as was usual for Venetian operas of the time. His first two librettos were for theatres owned by the Grimani brothers, Giovanni Carlo and Vincenzo. Indeed Aurora in Atene (which he claims was written in eight days) was dedicated to Antonio Grimani, Giovanni Carlo’s son. In 1686 Frisan edited Vincenzo Grimani’s first libretto, Elmiro re di Corinto, for a production at the Teatro S Giovanni Grisostomo. Pausania is apparently the only work of his that was ever restaged (for the provincial theatre of Crema, 1692).

Aurora in Atene, Giannettini, 1678; ...

Article

Harris S. Saunders

(b Bergamo; d ?Turin, by aut. 1720). Italian librettist. In Bergamo, he was a member of the Accademia degli Arioni. By 1686 he had moved to Venice and in 1687 he moved to Turin, by which time he was an abbate. In 1692 or 1693 he resigned his order to marry the singer Diana Margherita Aureli; they settled in Turin in 1697.

In the preface to Angelica nel Cataj, Averara claims to have written over 40 librettos, a number yet to be confirmed by bibliographic sources. His documented librettos were produced for Venice, Turin and Milan. In Turin, he also acted as impresario for two seasons, 1688–9 and 1689–90. From the preface to Filindo, it is clear that he had died by autumn 1720

The fact that Averara drew many of his subjects from mythology reflects the preferences of the court of Savoy and the Spanish dependency of Milan. ...

Article

Kurt Markstrom

[?Luigi, ?Alvise ]

(b Venice; fl 1729–c1735). Italian librettist . The preface to Belmira in Creta, set to music by Antonio Galeazzi and produced at the Teatro S Moisè, Venice, in 1729, indicates that this was his first libretto and links him with the Accademia dell’ Arcadia in Rome. Belmira was arranged as a pasticcio by Porpora for London in 1734. Also attributed to Girolamo Giusti is L’inganno scoperto, performed at the Teatro S Angelo in 1735. Quadrio (1744) attributed to him the intermezzo Ginestra e Lichetto and the opera Motezuma (set by Vivaldi, 1733), but later sources contradict this. Confusion has arisen with another Venetian writer named Giusti (Luigi or Alvise), an aristocrat influenced by Zeno. Luigi produced librettos for Galuppi’s Argenide and possibly Vivaldi’s Motezuma at the Teatro S Angelo in 1733; in the late 1730s he left Venice to pursue an administrative career in Milan and Mantua, entering the priesthood in ...

Article

John Whenham

[Capponius, Ginus Angelus]

(b ?Rome, 1607/8; d Rome, Jan 30, 1688). Italian composer, poet and dramatist. He was born into a Roman branch of a noble Florentine family and seems to have lived and worked mainly in Rome, where he built a palace close to the Piazza del Popolo. Pope Urban VIII granted him the honorary title of Marquis of Pescia, and he was created a patrician by the Roman senate. While still very young he wrote a tragedy, Pirimalo, which was performed in 1623 by the students of the Collegio Romano to celebrate the canonization of St Francis Xavier; the published version includes a list of actors and singers who took part in the performance. Capponi’s poetry is mainly secular. In 1639 he contributed to the Applausi poetici for the singer Leonora Baroni. He was an amateur composer, who seems to have been well known in Roman musical circles: he was acquainted with ...

Article

Michael Talbot

(It., from sereno: ‘clear night sky’)

A dramatic cantata, normally celebratory or eulogistic, for two or more singers with orchestra. The name alludes to the fact that performance often took place by artificial light outdoors at night. ‘Serenata’ has become associated incorrectly with ‘sera’ (evening); this etymology has long influenced the interpretation of the word, which has been used also to denote a lover’s serenade or an instrumental composition (e.g. Mozart’s Serenata notturna k239).

The first serenatas appear to have been written in Italy and in Vienna, shortly after the emergence of the solo cantata. Two early examples are Antonio Bertali’s Gli amori d’Apollo con Clizia (1661, Vienna) and Antonio (or possibly Remigio) Cesti’s Io son la primavera (1662, Florence). In the 17th and 18th centuries the serenata was viewed as a dramatic genre in the Aristotelian sense (the singers representing characters who communicate directly, without external narration) rather than in the senses of being acted on stage or having an identifiable plot. Its apparently contradictory nature has led to its being seen variously as a species of overblown cantata and a miniature opera. In reality, the serenata is a distinct genre, although its literary texts go by a multiplicity of descriptions that suggest greater diversity than actually exists....

Article

Harris S. Saunders

(b Padua; fl 1703). Italian librettist . He is known to have written only one libretto, Gli amanti generosi (Vinaccesi, 1703). He originally conceived the work as a spoken tragedy and adapted it for the operatic stage later, lightening the serious tone and inserting arias, often outside their proper niche. Although two characters (Artaxerxes I and his son Darius II) are historical, the plot is fictional. The castrato Nicolo Grimaldi (‘Nicolini’), who sang Hydaspes in all restagings of the work, probably witnessed the original production. G. Convò and Stampiglia revised Gli amanti generosi for the Teatro S Bartolomeo, Naples, in 1705, with music by Francesco Mancini, and Nicolini revised this setting for a production in 1710 at the Haymarket, London, as Idaspe fedele or Hydaspes. The work was last performed in 1730 as Idaspe at the Teatro S Giovanni Grisostomo with music by Riccardo Broschi.

Giovanni Pietro should not be confused with Giovanni Battista [Giambattista] Candi, also from Padua, who may have been his brother. He likewise wrote only one libretto, as it happens, for the same Venetian theatre: ...

Article

(b Novellara, nr Reggio nell'Emilia, 5 Feb or Nov 1582; d Ancona, March 9, 1659). Italian dramatist. He spent his first years in Novellara with his relative Camillo Gonzaga. He was trained at the court of Ferrara and Modena where he lived with his brother Guidobaldo (a writer of tragedies) and then at the Collegio Borromeo in Pavia. Despite an offer of service with the Este family he established himself in Ancona (c1604), retaining his residency when he entered the service of the Medici in Florence. He was a member of various academies (including the Intrepidi of Ferrara, the Gelati of Bologna and the Umoristi of Rome); in Ancona he founded the Accademia dei Caliginosi (7 Jan 1624) and organized the activities of the public theatre of the ‘Arsenale’.

Bonarelli's works were performed in various Italian cities and in Vienna, for which court he provided opera-ballettos, pastorals, ...

Article

(b Mondolfo, c1640; d after 1714). Italian composer. He was a member of the clergy and in 1692 was maestro di cappella of the collegiate church of S Nicolò at Fabriano. According to Radiciotti (1893) he lived for many years in the vicinity of Senigallia and was maestro di cappella at Ostra, Iesi, Arcevia and Pesaro. He was a canon at Urbino in 1709 (according to RicordiE); this information probably derives from the libretto to La Leucippe.

all lost

Article

John Whenham

[Sylvestris, Floridus de]

(b Barbarano, nr Vicenza, early 17th century; d Rome, after 1673). Italian anthologist and editor of music, composer, singer and dramatist. He was a priest, who from about 1647 until at least 1654 was a bass in the choir of Santo Spirito in Sassia, Rome. In 1664 he held a similar position at S Giacomo degli Incurabili, Rome (the church in which he is buried). A manuscript inscription, ‘Floridus de Sylvestris à Barbr. [?]civ.s. [?]Bracc.ni. Dulcia cum flore hic Barbara Sylva Canit’, on the title-page of the copy of the alto partbook of Francesco Pasquali’s Madrigali, libro terzo (1627, in I-Bc ) may be of biographical significance; Pasquali’s book includes a madrigal, Fere barbare, for solo bass. Silvestris seems to have been an accomplished singer. The solo motet Aggrediamur iter vitae in one of his anthologies (RISM 1659¹), written for him by an unknown composer, contains virtuoso passage-work and requires a vocal range of over two octaves (...

Article

Thomas Walker and Marc Vanscheeuwijck

(fl 1694–1717). Italian composer. He set to music La Bernarda, a ‘dramma rusticale per musica’ by Tommaso Stanzani, performed at the Teatro Formagliari, Bologna, in Carnival 1694, and perhaps earlier at the church of S Paolo using marionettes. This work may be based on the prose ‘commedia rusticale’ of the same title by G.C. Allegri, in turn a translation into Bolognese dialect of the much adapted La Tancia by Michelangelo Buonarroti the younger. Righi also set to music Stanzani’s Il riposo d’Italia, a ‘trattenimento musicale’, which was performed in Bologna in 1689. As well as an oratorio, La pia contesa (text by Vangini), given in 1707, Righi composed a Regina coeli for four voices (score in I-Baf ) for his admission in 1707 (Schmidl gave 1702) to the Accademia Filarmonica, Bologna, of which he was elected principe in 1717.

AllacciDEitnerQRicciTBSchmidlDG.M. Mazzuchelli: Gli scrittori d’Italia...