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Volume 9, no. 1:

Tim Carter*

Rediscovering Il rapimento di Cefalo

ABSTRACT

The opera Il rapimento di Cefalo (libretto by Gabriello Chiabrera; music mostly by Giulio Caccini) was the chief entertainment celebrating the wedding of Henri IV of France and Maria de’ Medici in Florence in October 1600. Yet it has been eclipsed by Jacopo Peri’s Euridice, also performed then. For Il rapimento, we have only the text, a description (by Michelangelo Buonarroti il giovane), and musical fragments (in Caccini’s Le nuove musiche of 1602). But it is worth reconstructing the work in the context of contemporary attempts to combine poetry and music, and drama and spectacle, on the late Renaissance stage.

1.  Introduction

2.  The Historiography of Early Opera

3.  Tragic Texts and Objectionable Subjects

4.  Questions of Genre

5.  Casting Il rapimento

6.  Verse and Music in Il rapimento

7.  Conclusion

Appendix

References


1. Introduction

1.1 Recent celebrations of the quatercentenary of opera have tended to focus on Jacopo Peri’s Euridice, first staged in Florence on 6 October 1600 during the festivities for the wedding of Maria de’ Medici and Henri IV of France. But the same wedding festivities saw the performance (on the 9th) of a work no less worthy of attention, Il rapimento di Cefalo to a text by Gabriello Chiabrera, with music principally by Giulio Caccini (plus choruses by Luca Bati, Piero Strozzi, and Stefano Venturi del Nibbio), and with a panoply of stage machinery designed by Bernardo Buontalenti.1 Il rapimento was reportedly staged before an audience of 3,000 gentlemen and 800 ladies and cost a massive 60,000 scudi; it was the “commedia maggiore” of the festivities, so the Grand Duke said, and a large part of the official description of the nuptials by Michelangelo Buonarroti il giovane was devoted to it.2 The text also became regularly included in Chiabrera’s published works, and it was translated into French by Nicolas Chrétien in 1608.3 Yet with only a very few exceptions (chiefly concerning the staging),4 the piece has been almost entirely ignored, and what little has been said about it has often been incorrect.

1.2 In part that is understandable: Il rapimento is one of a number of “lost” works from the early history of opera, on a par with the Peri-Rinuccini Dafne (1598), for which we have the libretto but only a few musical fragments, or the Monteverdi-Rinuccini Arianna (1608), with again a libretto and just one musical section (Ariadne’s famous lament). In the case of Il rapimento, only a small portion of the music survives—included in Caccini’s Le nuove musiche (Florence: I Marescotti, 1602)—although we do have the libretto and various accounts of the performance. But the tendency to ignore Il rapimento also reflects other agendas, particularly its misconstrual (by myself as well as others) as a glorified set of intermedi and hence not properly operatic,5 and also an apparent prejudice against Giulio Caccini, whose well-known and unreasonable intrusion into Peri’s Euridice has long been a cause of denigration.

1.3 Yet Il rapimento meets all the criteria, such as they are in the early seventeenth century, for being called an opera: it was entirely sung, it has a (quite strong, in fact) dramatic thread, and it was staged (spectacularly). And as is often the case with those early operas surviving only by way of fragmentary and disparate sources, one can still tell a great deal about the music even in the absence of any musical notes. Thus one can attempt some kind of reconstruction of Il rapimento that permits a clearer sense of its contribution to the genre; the materials for such a reconstruction, however partial, are presented in the Appendix. Also, exploring why Il rapimento has been more or less written out of history—a process begun very early on—raises a different and quite profound set of questions, forcing us to reassess the prejudices that inflect our accounts of early opera, and indeed of opera as a whole.

2.  The Historiography of Early Opera

2.1 For all the efforts of recent scholars, from Nino Pirrotta and Claude Palisca onwards, to clarify events in Florence in the last quarter of the sixteenth century leading to the “birth” of “opera,” 6 there still remains a certain amount of confusion over matters of fact and interpretation. Pirrotta was right to warn us that opera did not emerge as a result of straightforward developments in Florentine theatrical and musical practices; actual events and their subsequent historical interpretations (the latter began quite early) were the subject of intense rivalries, jealousies and misdirection, while the whole thrust of theatrical endeavor in Florence in this period—the glorification of the Medici—prompted the paying of little heed to historical niceties or to clear artistic vision. One might say the same of opera’s forebears—Renaissance tragedies, comedies, tragicomedies, pastorals, and their intermedi—where seemingly transparent distinctions of genre and practice prompted by the classicising theories of contemporary poetics often became blurred on the stage.

2.2 Accounts of early opera and related genres are strongly determined by the printed sources that survive of them: works in manuscript, or of which only traces survive indirectly, fare less well in the historical canon. This without doubt helps to explain the pre-eminence of Jacopo Peri’s Euridice—its score was printed by Giorgio Marescotti in Florence in early 1601 (the dedication is dated 6 February)—whereas the earlier Dafne (1598), of which only fragments survive in manuscript,7 tends to be treated as little more than a preliminary footnote. But Peri’s was not the first opera to be printed: he was beaten to the press by his rival Giulio Caccini, whose own Euridice was printed by Giorgio Marescotti in late 1600 (the dedication is dated 20 December)—although it was not performed complete until December 1602—while Emilio de’ Cavalieri’s Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo (performed in February 1600) was published in Rome with a dedication dated 3 September. One wonders, then, why Peri has continued to gain such precedence in the literature.

2.3 These scores (and to a somewhat lesser extent, contemporary librettos) contain not just performing material (if it is) but also paratextual matter such as dedications and prefaces that serves several functions in the context of a new genre prompting a number of authorial anxieties.8 Caccini, Cavalieri, and Peri—and also the poet Ottavio Rinuccini—were concerned each to claim precedence for their achievements prior to and within their published work, and also to explain theoretical and practical novelties for the uninitiated, the ill-informed, or the skeptical. Such paratextual matter has also played a significant role in determining our reading of early opera. For example, we know of Emilio de’ Cavalieri’s musical pastorals of the early 1590s—Il satiro and La disperatione di Fileno of 1590, and the Giuoco della cieca of 1595—almost entirely from Alessandro Guidotti’s prefatory remarks to Cavalieri’s Rappresentatione. Similarly, the problematic chronology of Peri’s Dafne must be reconstructed from somewhat inconsistent references in later dedications and prefaces. The problems are still more acute when it comes to making sense of the complex aesthetic issues embraced by those involved in early opera. Not for nothing do most modern accounts pay close heed to Peri’s statements in the preface to his Euridice concerning the classicising (at least notionally) intent of the new genre—although Peri is more circumspect on the matter than some scholars have assumed—and also the supposed origins of recitative within, and its fidelity to, some representation of heightened speech.

2.4 Peri’s preface to Euridice is a carefully constructed model of historical rectitude (Cavalieri’s precedence is acknowledged), seriousness of purpose (the aesthetic statements on recitative), and factual accuracy (details of the performance of Euridice), tempered with an appropriate humility that involves giving others their due, whether Jacopo Corsi as patron, Rinuccini as poet, or the chief singers and instrumentalists who took part in the performance. It is small wonder that this text is taken so seriously. Cavalieri tends to come off less well, in part because he hides behind another author (so we distrust the text as a personal statement), but chiefly because of an innate historiographical prejudice against “sacred” works in favor of secular. Caccini, however, is the villain of the piece: Peri’s account of his having forced singers dependent on him to sing his own rather than Peri’s music in the performance of Euridice on 6 October 1600, plus a general view of Caccini as being both difficult and arrogant (Peri, in fact, was no less so), meld with the statements in Caccini’s own dedication to his Euridice that focus chiefly on song, not sung speech, and on manners of performance so as to weaken Caccini’s achievement in the eyes of posterity, at least in the field of opera, and for all that his position in the history of monody is more secure.

2.5 The pattern becomes apparent surprisingly early: the preface to Marco da Gagliano’s Dafne (Florence: Cristofano Marescotti, 1608) offers the first historical overview of the emergence of opera written seemingly at some distance from the events themselves: Corsi, Rinuccini, and Peri (and Dafne and Euridice) achieve full prominence, while Cavalieri and Caccini disappear entirely from the record. Of course, Gagliano had his own axe to grind on Peri’s behalf, given the tensions emerging within his musical Accademia degli Elevati recently formed in Florence.9 A few later authors attempted to redress the balance: Filippo Vitali allocates equal credit to Peri and Caccini in the preface to his Aretusa (Rome: Luca Antonio Soldi, 1620); Vincenzo Giustiniani (1628) credits the invention of recitative to both Caccini and Gioseppino Cenci; Pietro della Valle makes his claim for Cavalieri (chiefly, it seems, to glorify Rome over Florence) in his Della musica dell’età nostra che non è punto inferiore, anzi è migliore di quella dell’età passata (1640); while Severo Bonini praises his former teacher, Caccini, in his Discorsi e regole sovra la musica written around the middle of the century. But Bonini’s remarks remained in manuscript, while della Valle’s statement was undercut by being appropriated by (and later published in the works of) the avid Florentine theorist Giovanni Battista Doni,10 whose own various accounts of early opera strongly favored the Gagliano line while giving still more credit to the poet Rinuccini. The course of historical accounts of the first operas was set very early on.

2.6 None of these authors, save Caccini (and he only indirectly), makes any reference to Il rapimento di Cefalo, for all that it was the major entertainment of the 1600 festivities. Its subsequent deletion from the record may indeed reflect prejudice against Caccini, the work’s apparent emphasis on spectacle over drama, and perhaps even the feeling that political propaganda had won over serious artistic intent. But the most prominent reaction at the time would seem to have been embarrassment over the apparent failure of the work itself. Even Caccini, always ready to seize the advantage in accounts of musical events in Florence, is strangely apologetic about the passages from Il rapimento included in Le nuove musiche, and the work seems to have cast a pall over a set of festivities which, in the end, failed properly to reflect a political triumph. Only a few praised Il rapimento, and then mostly for the machines; and when it came to celebrating the next Medici wedding, that of Prince Cosimo de’ Medici and Maria Magdalena of Austria in October 1608, all the court artists involved, including Caccini, were anxious not to repeat the mistakes made eight years earlier.11 Emilio de’ Cavalieri’s comments to the grand-ducal secretary, Marcello Accolti, just after the 1600 festivities probably give a fair account of the matter, for all his own partiality:

As many people of all ranks as I have spoken to have said to me: the comedies did not succeed, and particularly the big one [Il rapimento]. [They say] that the music was tedious, that it seemed like the chanting of the passion. Marchese del Piano was particularly of this conviction. The feast of the banquet everybody praised as a thing of great beauty, only there was a little confusion of people. Giovanni de’ Bardi, a loyal servant of His Highness, asked me with amazement, how it is possible that His Highness had not made use of Bernardo [Buontalenti] and of me and failed to follow the example of the comedy of the wedding [of 1589] by having a comedy with intermedi, using Guarini also. For the few words that he composed [for the banquet] lent honor to all the rest. And [he said] that they should not have gone into tragic texts and objectionable subjects. I merely listened and let him talk. To tell you the truth, I was pleased to hear that all the things in which I participated are said to have been done by Signor Don Giovanni [de’ Medici], and those for which others were responsible and that did not succeed they say I did. I replied to this by giving an account of where I intervened. Then I defended the others by reasons such as the shortness of time and other factors, which are not acknowledged.

           Whoever spends his money as His Highness has done this time should get satisfaction; and the servant should tie the ass where the master wishes, as I did. My only desire was that His Highness hear what is being said and that he know the truth in this matter: that he has thrown away the money he spent on the comedies and also lost the reputation that Florence once had in such things; that this displeases Giovanni de’ Bardi; and that by using Bernardo and myself he could have done wonders with less expense—and he had already tested us …

            The more these comedies become magnified by Bardella [Antonio Naldi] and Giulio [Caccini], and by the others, and the more I was slighted, and also Bernardo, the more the miracles disappeared and they [the entertainments] appeared to foreigners as commonplace and [Il rapimento] struck them as tedious. Everyone says it lasted more than five hours, but it did not even reach three.12

Similarly, Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini praised the scenery and the intermedi (see below), although he noted that the music was tiresome and that the machines did not always work successfully.13 Only Cardinal Bentivoglio seems to have been wildly enthusiastic about all aspects of the production, praising the scenery, the machines, the music, and the vivid impression made by the audience, including the truly regal Maria de’ Medici.14

3.  Tragic Texts and Objectionable Subjects

3.1 According to Cavalieri, Giovanni de’ Bardi was “amazed” that the Medici court should have opted for “tragic texts and objectionable subjects” in the 1600 festivities. The criticism gains particular force given that Bardi was the leader of the so-called Florentine Camerata that in the 1570s and ’80s had established at least some of the ground for early opera in Florence. His “tragic texts” is commonly taken to refer to Euridice, with its tragic elements (the death of Eurydice) for all Rinuccini’s eventual lieto fine; while at least at first glance, Il rapimento would seem to constitute an “objectionable” subject for a wedding. The goddess Aurora, the wife of Titone (Tithonus), has fallen in love with the mortal Cefalo (Cephalus), a hunter, who resists her advances because of his love for Procris (who is not named here). Because of Aurora’s obsession, she cannot fulfill her official duty of heralding the day: thus Febo (Phoebus, the sun-god) cannot rise from the ocean (represented by Oceano), Notte (Night) is forced to remain in the heavens, and the earth, represented by the goddess Berecintia (Berecyntia; i.e., Cybele), is threatened with destruction. Meanwhile, the cause of all these difficulties is revealed to be the pesky Amore (Cupid), who responds when asked by Febo why he has brought such darkness to the earth (ll. 224–31)

     Perchè regni memoria
entro il cor degli dei del mio valore,
e nel mondo laggiù cresca maggiore
e mio pregio e mia gloria;
stia rimirando, e taccia
la sempiterna e la caduca gente,
che può la mia faretra
ciò che vuol la mia mente.
     So that the memory will reign
of my valour within the hearts of the gods,
and in the world below will increase still more
both my worth and my glory.
Let there watch and be silent
both the eternal and the mortal races,
for my quiver can do
whatever my mind wishes.

The gods, however, are embarrassed by this display of Amore’s all-encompassing power, and he is summoned by Mercurio (Mercury) to give account of the matter before Giove (Jupiter), who seeks to settle the affair. Amore promises a speedy resolution, which he achieves by having Aurora trick Cefalo into taking her hand, whereupon he is promptly kidnapped to enjoy life among the gods. Procris is forgotten (indeed, she never appears on stage), and there is no mention of the subsequent events of the tale, including, at least in Ovid, her unhappy fate by Cephalus’ accidental hand.15

3.2 The tale is not untypical of those adopted in early opera16—likewise its origins in the Metamorphoses—and indeed the theme of Cupid proving his powers by interfering in the lives of both gods and mortals has strong echoes of another trial of love versus honor recently staged in Florence, the tale of Apollo and Daphne.17 Whether the subject is proper for a wedding may or may not be a subject for discussion depending on contemporary notions of decorum: the Orpheus tale, for that matter, is also an odd choice, even taking into account Rinuccini’s contrived ending (where Orfeo successfully rescues Euridice from Hades without having to undergo any test). Previous performances of the Cephalus tale associated with weddings include one in 1475 in Bologna for the marriage of Conte Guido Pepoli,18 and Niccolò da Correggio’s Fabula di Cefalo performed in Ferrara on 21 January 1486/7 for that of Lucrezia d’Este and Annibale Bentivoglio.19 Both involved the full version of the tale (i.e., including Procris), with its reasonably appropriate warnings against marital distrust and jealousy.20

3.3 The case of Il rapimento, however, was somewhat more delicate, or so it seems from the various shades of embarrassment over the subject-matter revealed by both Chiabrera and Buonarroti. According to Poesia in the prologue (ll. 19–24):

Or tra le pompe e gl’imenei festosi
Now, amid the pomp and festive wedding celebrations
ampi teatri e scene eccelse indoro:
espongo oggi fra loro
al forsennato vulgo amori ascosi,
e tra bei suoni e canti
mostro d’antichi Dei vari sembianti.
I gild great theatres and exalted scenes;
today thereupon I reveal
hidden loves to the crazy mob,
and amid beautiful sounds and songs
I show various images of the ancient gods.

These are just the antics of mythology invoked in a spirit of gentle lunacy, she suggests, before moving on to the important matter of the day, the praise due to the new Queen of France and her future offspring. A somewhat different defense appears later in the play (Act V, ll. 541–52): Aurora fears public opprobrium for loving a mere mortal but claims that royal minds will understand her passion because kings are close to gods and so their thoughts are almost divine. As for Buonarroti, the moral that he draws from Il rapimento appears somewhat perverse, for all that it fits in with the moralizing tendencies of viewing Ovid through a Christian prism.21 Cefalo discovers that all things on earth have their origins from the gods and that the earth is not a worthy place for noble souls, who can only achieve their just deserts and happiness in heaven.22 Either way, the final chorus in praise of love rings somewhat hollow.

3.4 Mythical kidnaps were commonly enough represented in wedding entertainments, although they normally involved male gods gaining control over mortal women, with an obvious reading for the proper place of women within marriage. Bardi might have objected to the inversion in Il rapimento, where a female goddess kidnaps a male mortal, whether on grounds of misogynistic principle or because it constrained the topos; the inversion denies the rite of passage (from virgin to wife; from the control of a father to that of a husband), and Cefalo cannot produce the stock female response to such a rite, a formal lament moving the audience to the required, if somewhat self-righteous, tears.23 The choice of a myth that might seem to empower women may have derived from pragmatic issues based on the casting (as we shall see below), but it did offer the potential for an entirely appropriate allegory should any Florentine have wished (or dared) to look for it. Henry IV had proved to be a famously reluctant bridegroom—he was maneuvered into the wedding by severe financial pressures from the Medici—and he did not attend the ceremonies in Florence. The king also had a series of mistresses whose likely position following the imminent marriage was a matter of some public discussion. Any equation of Maria de’ Medici with Aurora, and presumably Grand Duke Ferdinando I de’ Medici with Giove, would have been conventional enough, just as the noble audience would see itself reflected in the heroes filling the amphitheatre of the epilogue, with art imitating life imitating art.24 And one doubts that any of Henry’s representatives would have missed the point, for all that they, too, might have found it “objectionable.”

4.  Questions of Genre

4.1 In Act V of Il rapimento (ll. 534–36), Amore claims that Aurora’s tale will be sung in theatres to come. The reference, no doubt delivered with a knowing wink, is probably not just to the 1600 performance but also to earlier dramatic representations of the tale, notably Correggio’s Fabula di Cefalo of 1487. Correggio’s prologue claims that work to be neither a tragedy nor a comedy but a “Fabula o historia.”25 In 1600, however, most should have identified Il rapimento as some kind of pastoral play in the manner of Tasso and Guarini: it was variously called a “pastorale,” “comedia,” “favola,” “comedia pastorale,” “pastourelle,” and “rappresentazione,” mixing terms in ways not unusual for such theoretically problematic genres as late sixteenth-century pastoral (and similarly, early opera). Buonarroti himself called it “una nobilissima favola,” and presumably he did so with the attention to detail typical of a Florentine academician: the catch-all term has the effect of softening expectations in terms of genre, structure, and content. However, some contemporary accounts, and most subsequent ones, are less precise.

4.2 Cesare Molinari may not be quite correct in claiming that Il rapimento di Cefalo is the first example of a play being written to order for a specific court festivity,26 but his point still has some force, not least because Chiabrera clearly intended his work for a given time and place, and to fulfill a specific festive function. Its playing with convention in a precise context has led to some confusion that was apparent even in contemporary official and private sources, introducing errors of fact and interpretation that continue to appear in the literature. Two interconnected mistakes have proved particularly pervasive (and perverse): first the duration of the performance, and second, whether or not Il rapimento included intermedi. For the former, the contemporary court diarist Cesare Tinghi reported that the performance ran “dalle 24 ore per fino alle ore 5 di notte” (“24 hours” is sunset by Italian reckoning),27 and Tinghi’s claim that the performance lasted five hours soon became enshrined in Florentine chronicles. But Il rapimento cannot have been so long: Chiabrera’s libretto is 658 lines in length, longer than Rinuccini’s Dafne (445 lines) but shorter than Euridice (790 lines), and roughly the same as Alessandro Striggio’s libretto for Monteverdi’s Orfeo. Even allowing time for the expansive stage effects and the final ballo (the text for the latter is lost), the performance must have been rather short for the period. Cavalieri seems to have been correct when he said of Il rapimento to Accolti (see above) that “Everyone says it lasted more than five hours, but it did not even reach three.” It is not surprising that Buonarroti kept silent on the matter.

4.3 One explanation for the presumed discrepancy between the length of the libretto and the reported duration of the performance has been the presence of now lost intermedi.28 The notion of Il rapimento having had intermedi between its acts reflects a confusion also expressed by contemporaries: after the dress rehearsal on 7 October, the Venetian ambassador Nicolò da Molin reported that “there will be performed one of the most ingenious comedies which has ever been done here, entirely in music, and with most beautiful intermedi”; Tinghi referred to a comedy with “tanti importanti intermedi,” those intermedi having been “composed” (composti) by Don Giovanni de’ Medici;29 and Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini praised the staging and the intermedi.30 But one of Bardi’s criticisms of Il rapimento was precisely that it was not a comedy with intermedi on the tried-and-tested Florentine model (citing the archetypal intermedi for La pellegrina, celebrating the wedding of Grand Duke Ferdinando and Christine of Lorraine in 1589). More to the point, although Buonarroti’s description elaborates at great length upon the staging of Il rapimento, it reveals very little (save the final ballo) that is not present or implied in Chiabrera’s libretto. Had there been intermedi in addition, then Buonarroti would surely have given an account of them. And there is nothing in the libretto of Il rapimento to suggest otherwise; even though the texts of the Acts I–III final choruses were printed incomplete (for reasons that remain unclear), they do not seem to have acted as intermedi in any formal, or even the most informal, sense.31

4.4 However, one can excuse a Venetian ambassador, and perhaps even a Florentine court diarist, for thinking that Il rapimento included intermedi, for it displays within its action most of the scenic and other conventions of that genre. Even without the prologue and epilogue,32 the staging of the opera itself is notable for its variety of scenes—three different pastoral sets, two of which mutate (in Acts III and IV), and one maritime, plus two different versions of the heavens (in Acts III and IV–V)—while the cloud effects (some of which presumably covered scene changes), with their wholly natural, irregular movement, were a subject of much praise by Buonarroti. It is not surprising that work on the scenery began in the theatre some three months before the performance.33 This mixture of heaven, earth, sea, and underworld scenes (the last approximated by Berecintia’s cavern in Act IV) comes close to the typical panoply for a set of Florentine intermedi, while the clouds, chariots, and other machines were also often seen there; indeed, much of the stage apparatus had been adapted by Buontalenti from materials previously used in 1589 (and which were later used in 1608).34 Thus it is hard to know whether the evidently close relationship between Il rapimento and the intermedi performed between the acts of Battista Guarini’s Il pastor fido staged in Mantua on 22 November 1598 in honor of Margherita of Austria—particularly the appearance of a whale from the sea, Berecintia from under the earth, and Fama—reflects direct borrowing or just generic convention.35 Also derived from the intermedi is the presence of gods and allegorical figures, while the interaction between the deeds of mortals and of deities comes close to Antonfrancesco Grazzini’s prescription for the 1565 intermedi (for the wedding of Grand Duke Francesco I de’ Medici and Johanna of Austria), which were devised “to make it appear that what the gods were doing in the fable of the intermedi the humans, too, would later do in the comedy, compelled, as it were, by a superior power.” 36 But Grazzini is referring to a very different situation where mortal deeds in the comedy are distinguished from the deities in the entr’acte intermedi, whereas in Il rapimento the intermedio effects are integrated into the action (note the scene-changes within and not just between the acts), and gods and mortals interact freely. The Venetian ambassador may have thought he was seeing (or was about to see) a sung comedy with intermedi—why should he have known better?—but Il rapimento could not be equated directly with something so familiar. That, according to Bardi, was its problem.

4.5 A not insignificant footnote to the question of Il rapimento and its “intermedi” is the role of Don Giovanni de’ Medici, the younger brother of Grand Duke Ferdinando (and thus Maria de’ Medici’s uncle).37 Tinghi says that Don Giovanni “composed” the (non-existent) intermedi, while Guarini attributes to him the “miracoli” of the work, and Francesco d’Abramo calls him its “inventore.” Cavalieri, in contrast, suggests that he took unreasonable control over the whole festivities, falling in league with Caccini to elbow aside both Cavalieri and Bernardo Buontalenti. Certainly, Don Giovanni seems to have appointed himself de facto master-of-ceremonies, and his pretensions in the theatre and in architecture—which would manifest themselves in a similarly busybody-ish way in the ill-fortuned design and construction of the Cappella dei Principi in S. Lorenzo—may have proved irksome to Buontalenti, without doubt the greatest Florentine architect and stage-designer of the day.38 Don Giovanni may also have been involved in the choice of the subject-matter for Il rapimento and its scenic working-out (which would justify d’Abramo’s “inventore”). But Buonarroti does not attribute to Don Giovanni any hands-on intervention in Il rapimento: Buontalenti is given his due for the machines, while Chiabrera himself had overall control of the production as the corago. Cavalieri’s attempt to distance Buontalenti from the festivities may or may not have been a strategy adopted by the architect himself because of the apparent failure of the entertainments. Certainly, Don Giovanni seems to have adopted a similar tack: a long paragraph commenting (if not precisely) on his involvement in Il rapimento was removed from Buonarroti’s problematic drafts of the Descrizione, and, it seems, on the orders of Don Giovanni himself.39 Cavalieri may have felt that Don Giovanni was taking credit where credit was not due, but there is almost no record of it in the final version of the official account of the festivities. Nor did Don Giovanni play any significant part in the 1608 festivities.

5. Casting Il Rapimento

5.1 Buonarroti’s overall claim for “more than a hundred” musicians performing in Il rapimento is reinforced by the “more than a hundred” deities singing the chorus at the end of Act IV, and the “more than sixty” hunters in the final Coro di cacciatori.40 However, matters become less hyperbolic when he gets down to the nitty-gritty, both concerning the “extras” (six, not twelve, signs of the zodiac in Act III, in part, presumably, for reasons of space) and in terms of the main characters. For the latter, the casting is quite straightforward, indeed elegant, and is also determined by specific constraints (see Table 1).

Table 1

Numbers of poetic lines allocated to characters in Il rapimento di Cefalo

(Characters are listed in order of first appearance; voice-types are
allocated somewhat intuitively, but not unreasonably.)

 

Act I

Act II

Act III

Act IV

Act V

Total

Poesia (Prologue; S)

         

36

Aurora (S)

33

 

22

 

34

89

Coro di cacciatori

21

     

30

51

Cefalo (T)

40

 

20

 

13

73

Titone (B)

 

16

     

16

Oceano (?B)

 

25

     

25

Febo (T)

 

30

     

30

Coro delle deità marine

 

7

     

7

Amore (S)

 

33

 

39

46

118

Coro di Amori

 

11

     

11

Notte (S)

   

30

   

30

Coro di segni celesti

   

33

   

33

Berecintia (S)

     

34

 

34

Mercurio (?T)

     

30

 

30

Coro degli dei

     

16

15

31

Giove (?T)

       

24

24

Fama (Epilogue; S)

         

20

Total

94

121

105

119

162

658


The distribution and relative weight of these roles reflect both their place in the drama and the intermedio-like procedures adopted here: only Aurora, Cefalo, and Amore appear in more than one act (three each), while the other characters appear in what one might call “cameo” roles, presenting their case but not engaging in significant action; this applies in particular to Titone, Notte, Berecintia, and Giove—plus, of course, Poesia in the prologue and Fama in the epilogue—who are, in turn, the most intermedio-like characters in the piece.

5.2 What is also striking is the predominance of what would seem to be soprano roles in terms not just of their number (at least six) but also of the amount of text devoted to them: Poesia, Aurora, Amore, Notte, Berecintia, and Fama have between them 327 lines of verse, almost half of the total. The fact that Aurora’s 89 lines (14 per cent of the total) exceed Dafne’s in the Rinuccini-Peri Dafne (22 lines; 5 per cent), Euridice’s in Euridice (27 lines; 3 per cent) or in the Striggio-Monteverdi Orfeo (12 lines; some 2 per cent), or, proportionally, Arianna’s in the Rinuccini-Monteverdi Arianna (146 lines; 13 per cent) is at least in part due to her prominent role in the tale.41 But early operas are rarely so soprano-dominated: the only other early libretto to come close is Rinuccini’s Narciso, which Monteverdi rejected for musical setting, in large part “because of the numerous sopranos we would have to employ for so many nymphs.”42

5.3 The curious casting of Narciso, and also that of Il rapimento, presumably stem from the same cause: both were designed as showcases for Giulio Caccini’s concerto di donne.43 Certainly Buonarroti makes this clear for Il rapimento. Of the “more than a hundred” musicians taking part in the performance, he says, all were vassals or servants of the Medici with the exception of the renowned singer in the Papal choir, Melchior Palantrotti (a bass who also took the role of Plutone in Peri’s Euridice). Of the Florentines, the greater part were allocated to the choruses, while a group of the most excellent took specific roles, in addition to which there was Caccini’s son (i.e., Pompeo, a singer and painter) and four “women of his family with angelic voices” who had been well trained by Caccini and who were especially skilled in theatrical singing. These four women, Buonarroti says, took all the women’s roles in the opera, “from Notte onwards.”44

5.4 Buonarroti’s final comment cannot be correct if he means “beginning with Notte and all the women’s roles in the play thereafter,” which add up only to three, whereas the female (as distinct from the soprano) roles in Il rapimento amount to five: Poesia, Aurora, Notte, Berecintia, Fama.45 But Poesia (the prologue) and Fama (the epilogue) could quite easily be sung by the same singer with a change of costume, bringing the number down to the required four.46 The possible candidates are Margherita di Agostino Benevoli della Scala, a former pupil of Antonio and Vittoria Archilei who became (by 1604) Caccini’s second wife;47 his daughters Francesca (born 18 September 1587) and Settimia (born 6 October 1591); Margherita Gagnolanti, his sister-in-law by his first wife, Lucia (who had died on 8 January 1593); and Ginevra Mazziere detta l’Azzurina, to whom Pompeo Caccini taught the prologue to Euridice (probably) for the performance in 1600, and whom he seduced or raped, made pregnant, and may eventually have married.48 However, Settimia is unlikely to have performed at the tender age of 9, for all that most scholars have taken it for granted that she took part. That leaves the other four in the above list, unless Caccini had one or more other women in his stable. Presumably, this was Francesca Caccini’s debut on a main Florentine stage; it is tempting to speculate (but there is no evidence) that the role of Aurora was designed for her.

5.5 Pompeo Caccini was a tenor:49 He sang the role of Aminta in a performance of Euridice, and also that of Alfeo in Filippo Vitali’s Aretusa (Rome, 1620; he also painted the scenery). We know from the extracts of Il rapimento in Caccini’s Le nuove musiche the names of two other tenors who sang therein: Jacopo Peri and Francesco Rasi. Neither of them could have taken the role of Cefalo, given that they sang in the final Coro di cacciatori following Cefalo’s apotheosis; but one could have taken Febo and the other Giove (both are probably tenor roles), or if Febo (Act II) and Giove (Act V) were doubled, one could have played Mercurio if this were a tenor role (it could also, I imagine, have been for an alto or even, if we follow Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, a bass). If Pompeo Caccini played Cefalo, that would then cover all the tenor roles in the opera—with one of Caccini’s donne playing Aurora it would also have helped keep the dialogue rehearsals in-house although there were other tenors available in Florence, including, of course, Giulio Caccini himself. As for the basses, Palantrotti, too, sang in the final Coro di cacciatori, but presumably as a distinguished visitor he also had one of the cameos, probably Titone’s self-contained (and therefore easily transmitted and learnt) lament opening Act II which, according to Buonarroti, was sung “with sweetest voice in deep accents” (and the setting included in Le nuove musiche is for bass voice; see below). Oceano also seems to have been a bass, given that Buonarroti has him sing “in voce severa e profonda”; there were numerous other basses in Florence almost worthy of a Palantrotti, including, for example, Aldobrando Trabocchi da Pienza.50 The only role thereby left unaccounted for is Amore, who was presumably played by a boy or a castrato (just as a boy, Jacopo Giusti from Lucca, took the role of the messenger Dafne in Euridice). All this taken together produces a possible casting (or perhaps better, one of several possible castings) given in Table 2.

Table 2

A possible casting of Il rapimento di Cefalo

Character

Probable voice-type

Possible singer

Poesia

Soprano

Caccini donna 1

Aurora

Soprano

Caccini donna 2

Cefalo

Tenor

Pompeo Caccini

Titone

Bass

Melchior Palantrotti

Oceano

Bass

Florentine bass

Febo

Tenor

Jacopo Peri or Francesco Rasi (perhaps doubled with Giove)

Amore

Soprano

Florentine boy or castrato

Notte

Soprano

Caccini donna 3

Berecintia

Soprano

Caccini donna 4

Mercurio

?Tenor

Florentine tenor (if not Peri or Rasi)

Giove

Tenor

Jacopo Peri or Francesco Rasi (perhaps doubled with Febo)

Fama

Soprano

Caccini donna 1

The Coro di cacciatori was, at least at the end of Act V, for SSATTB (so it is scored in Le nuove musiche), and presumably the other choruses were for the full range, save, perhaps, the Coro di Amori and the Coro di segni celesti, both of which may have focused on higher voices only.

6. Verse and Music in Il rapimento

6.1 In concluding his account of the performance of Il rapimento, Buonarroti emphasized the place of the machines in the hierarchy of the production: they caused the meraviglia that, in turn, prompted the audience to learn from the events played out on stage—plot, verse, and music then followed.51 It is not surprising, therefore, that most scholars have followed Buonarroti’s cue, regarding Il rapimento simply as an excuse for scenic display. Similarly, Chiabrera himself seems not to have held the work in high regard—he does not mention it by name in his autobiography—and in general, and with only a few exceptions, he may not have invested a great deal of time, energy, and (whether before or after the fact) commitment in his dramatic works, viewing them simply as occasional pieces to be adapted, mistreated, or abandoned at will.52 Yet, as a libretto Il rapimento raises important questions for what it does and does not do.

6.2 Chiabrera had already had some experience of writing poesia per musica—particularly anacreontic canzonettas for Caccini—and he was closely associated with Jacopo Corsi in Florence and therefore presumably was fairly conversant with recent thinking there.53 However, Il rapimento was his first libretto, and it would seem to betray a nervousness about the structures appropriate for the genre and even, perhaps, its very aesthetic basis. For example, the fact that Chiabrera turns Berecintia’s complaint into a diegetic song (Amore subsequently asks her what she is singing about)—for all that its content is not at all song-like—reveals a concern for verisimilitude that was somewhat less of a preoccupation for, say, Ottavio Rinuccini;54 similar caution is apparent in giving Titone a set-piece lament at the beginning of Act II. Nor does Chiabrera go so far as Rinuccini in using clearly contrasted poetic structures to set off distinct portions of the text. His prologue, while stanzaic, is not in the four-line strophes typical of operatic prologues (although his epilogue is). The end-of-act choruses were presumably all strophic: the texts for those of Acts I–III survive incomplete (just one stanza each),55 while the Act IV Coro degli dei (“In questo d’almi e di stellanti lumi”) has four stanzas (ABbA), as does the final Coro di cacciatori (“Ineffabile ardore”; ABBAC, plus a two-line refrain). Only three other passages in the text use strophic structures: Titone’s lament in terza rima (four tercets and a concluding quatrain);56 Berecintia’s five four-line stanzas as her “song” at the beginning of Act IV; and the double-choir response to Giove of the Coro degli dei towards the beginning of Act V. More telling still, the text is entirely in endecasillabi and settenari, with none of the other line-lengths (quaternari, quinari, ottonari) that Rinuccini was cultivating in his librettos; only Titone’s lament is set apart by being in lugubrious versi sdruccioli rather than versi piani. In terms of its verse structures, Il rapimento contrasts quite strikingly with the other operas surviving from 1600, Cavalieri’s Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo and Peri’s Euridice. 57 Cavalieri’s libretto has an inordinate number of settenari and still more rhyming couplets: this is one reason why, as Doni noted,58 its music seems more canzonetta-like in construction. Rinuccini’s own libretto for Euridice sets a middle course, using versi sciolti on the one hand, and more structured forms in different meters on the other, to distinguish sections of the opera one from the other according to their dramatic function. Il rapimento goes to the other extreme, with its mostly unstructured versi sciolti in the tradition of the (spoken) pastoral play. As Chiabrera’s canzonettas and scherzi reveal, he was well able to exploit different meters and poetic structures in pioneering ways that were to have their influence on operatic librettos (even Rinuccini’s), but in Il rapimento the poet appears torn between the typical requirements for a libretto as they were being developed by Rinuccini and the theoretical requirement for properly grandiose meters in dramatic poetry for court celebration.

6.3 Chiabrera had an ambivalent relationship with musicians: he fashioned his lyric canzonettas for them and recognized that his reputation was due at least in part to the dissemination of his verse through music, and yet he regularly dismissed the poems circulating in their hands as being beyond his concern. He himself made very few remarks on the nature of poesia per musica. His lyric canzonettas are associated specifically with Caccini in Lorenzo Fabbri’s preface to Chiabrera’s Le maniere de’ versi toscani (1599)—Caccini repaid the compliment in the preface to his Le nuove musiche—and in a later manuscript treatise, Il Bamberini, Chiabrera argued that canzonas should for preference use short strophes if they are to be sung in a heavily embellished style (in effect, that of Caccini’s setting of solo stanzas from the final chorus of Il rapimento) on the grounds that longer stanzas sung thus would take up too much time. Here Chiabrera does admit that for longer canzona stanzas “one might be able to find a fluent [type of] song, and one similar to plain speaking, and I give myself to believe that such was used by the Greeks in performing the choruses of tragedy,” but he goes on to note that this recitative style has begun to be heard in Florence during princely celebrations, albeit “according to me, not yet perfectly.” 59 However, if Chiabrera was not persuaded of the efficacy of the Florentine recitative, he seems to have taken a still harsher view of strophic arias on the stage, or so his letter to Alessandro Striggio (the librettist of Monteverdi’s Orfeo) of 10 October 1610 concerning a “favoletta” sent to Mantua would seem to suggest:

As for performing the favoletta, I am of the opinion that up to now matters have not come close to ancient practice, and this because musicians do not keep sight of the law of the stage. Proof of this is that we have Greek tragedies which were sung in theatres, yet they can also be performed without being sung; while modern sung [tragedies] cannot be performed without song and gain the audience’s favor … But if I were ever to serve my patrons according to my opinion, I would put on the stage a play that was serious on its own terms, and would give it such sweetness of song as was necessary for it, and I would not be concerned about the beautiful arias of the musicians, but perhaps this would not bring delight to the people, even if experience needs to shed light on the matter.60

Not for nothing, then, does Il rapimento make few concessions to the music, for all its empirical flexibility in terms of the staging. It was Rinuccini’s technique that developed into the norm for librettos in the seventeenth century and beyond. In the end, Chiabrera seems to have been too restricted by notions of decorum—that style is both determined and limited by genre—whereas Rinuccini was more willing to mix styles and genres, and the dramatic with the lyric, in a poetic vision that was remarkably prophetic, if more compromised in terms of theory.

6.4 Given that Chiabrera wrote his text much more as a play than as a libretto, he gave Caccini and his colleagues relatively little guidance on what to do with the music. It may not be surprising, then, that what little music does survive of Il rapimento is fairly undifferentiated, and also undistinguished. Caccini included the final chorus, “Ineffabile ardore,” at the center of his Le nuove musiche, separating the solo madrigals from the solo arias; his prefatory note to the setting says that, contrary to his intentions, he has been unable (he does not say why)61 to publish the whole score and therefore is including this extract here, chiefly, he suggests, as an illustration of his principles of ornamentation (and thus, as further examples supporting his important preface on the “new” styles of solo singing).62 The two-line refrain, “Ineffabile ardore,” which also begins the setting, is set for six voices (SSATTB) in simple homophony and pseudo-counterpoint in the G-Dorian mode. The four subsequent stanzas (in the same mode) are set three for solo voice and the last for six; the refrain is repeated after each one (although this is not always made clear by instructions in the print). The second stanza, “Muove si dolce e si soave guerra,” is printed as sung by the bass Melchior Palantrotti; the third, “Caduca fiamma di leggiadri sguardi,” for tenor, was sung “with other passaggi according to his style” by Jacopo Peri; and the fourth, “Qual trascorrendo per gli eterei campi,” “part with the proper passaggi [i.e., as notated here] and part according to his taste,” by the virtuoso tenor, Francesco Rasi, currently in the service of Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga of Mantua.63 The fifth and final stanza, “Quando il bell’anno primavera infiora,” uses the same six-voice scoring as the opening, and also rather similar music. The two tenor stanzas are straightforward strophic-variations (with the same bass line) with liberal vocal embellishment; the bass stanza uses similar harmonic structures but more freely—here the last two lines of the stanza are repeated (unlike the tenor stanzas), suggesting that Palantrotti, as a distinguished visitor, deserved slightly more music (the first stanza is about a third longer than the second and third).

6.5 Palantrotti clearly had a remarkably flexible voice: the range of “Muove si dolce e si soave guerra” extends from D to d', and in his prefatory note, Caccini associates the stanza with the extended bass ranges (moving into “le corde del Tenore”) further exploited in his Nuove musiche e nuova maniera di scriverle of 1614. Palantrotti also seems to have been fluent in the new styles of solo singing, involving not just rapid passaggi but also more affective devices such as the esclamazione and the trillo, whether separately or in close succession. His virtuoso technique further appears, it would seem, in the “Aria Ultima” concluding Le nuove musiche, which is also for bass voice and continuo; the text is Titone’s lament at the beginning of Act II of Il rapimento, although Caccini does not make any reference to the opera and may have included the aria simply because it was for bass, thereby completing the voice-types represented in the madrigals and arias of the collection (the madrigals are variously for soprano, tenor, and one for alto; the arias are all for soprano). In “Chi mi conforta ahimè! chi più consolami?” music is provided for the first stanza, with the second, third, and fourth given beneath just as text (thus, to be sung to the same music); the final quatrain is close to being a strophic variation, although it deviates presumably because of the additional line of text to be included. The vocal range here is still lower, B'-flat–c', but the song is no less embellished, and we find the same esclamazione-trillo marking in close succession. There is no reason to assume that this was not the setting performed (by Palantrotti, it would seem) in Il rapimento.

6.6 Presumably strophic variation was used also for the Prologue, for Berecintia’s “Nella magion stellante e luminosa” opening Act IV, and for the Epilogue; certainly this is what the poetic structures would suggest. Also, Buonarroti’s account of Notte’s dialogue with the six signs of the zodiac (played by six youths; only four or five have speeches in the libretto),64 with its reference to “the most exquisite voices ever heard” and “different types of singing,” would seem to suggest that the setting used similar principles to the solo sections of “Ineffabile ardore” (although the signs’ speeches are not strophic). As for the rest of the poetry, both its structure and its content would suggest that it was set entirely in recitative; even if Peri was able to fashion “arias” out of Rinuccini’s versi sciolti in Euridice, there are no occasions in Il rapimento where this seems either possible or appropriate. The choruses are the only obvious exception: those for Acts I–IV (the first by the madrigalist Stefano Venturi del Nibbio, the second by the amateur musician Piero Strozzi,65 the third and fourth by the maestro di cappella of the Duomo and S. Giovanni Battista, Luca Bati) were presumably polyphonic—Venturi del Nibbio and Bati, at least, are not known for writing monodies—with large-scale instrumental accompaniment in the fashion typical of the Florentine intermedi. According to Chrétien, the Act II Coro di Amori was made up of four, or perhaps eight, individuals,66 while Buonarroti says that the Coro degli dei at the end of Act IV was sung “di coro in coro”; thus it may have involved two or more choirs, perhaps up to five (hence the 25 gods in the large cloud center-stage) or more,67 which is presumably why Bati was brought in on the venture given his reputation for this type of writing.68 Buonarroti also says that Venturi del Nibbio provided the music for “una gran musica delli Dei simili a coro,” presumably the exchange “O bellissimo Dio” / “Dunque perch’ei non torni” / “S’alla stagion primiera”—respectively for one half of the chorus, then the other, and then tutti—in the middle of Act V.

6.7 We do not know who provided other music mentioned by Buonarroti but not detailed in the libretto, including the sinfonias played by the Muses framing the prologue,69 and the other instrumental items that, Buonarroti suggests, both regulated the movement of the machines and covered their noise.70 But clearly Caccini wrote other ensembles for Il rapimento and also had responsibility for the final ballo for the sixteen cities of Tuscany,71 who (according to Buonarroti)

began again singing new praises, and accompanying the song—which was contrasted, and alternating with varied [numbers of] voices and different melodies, all wondrous and sweet—with a ballo, [with] which, it being conducted with appropriate dignity, interweaved gracefully part by part, they demonstrated extreme joy, summoning the banks of the Arno for having increased their glory in seeing that a daughter of the Most Serene Great Francesco, who governed them with such great justice, had been called to rule over greater kingdoms.72

This seems to have been a ballo that combined singing and dancing according to the archetype established with the final ballo of the 1589 intermedi, Emilio de’ Cavalieri’s “O che nuovo miracolo”; Caccini provided another (also lost) example for the final intermedio accompanying Buonarroti’s Il giudizio di Paride performed at the festivities for the wedding of Cosimo de’ Medici and Maria Magdalena in 1608. The genre was one of some importance for emerging trends in theatrical entertainments in both Florence and Mantua.73

7. Conclusion

7.1 Caccini was unusually diffident about his music for Il rapimento, or so it seems from his half-hearted inclusion of portions of the work in Le nuove musiche, plus the comments associated with them.74 Cavalieri may offer an explanation in his claim that the Florentines, including Caccini, had not paid sufficient attention to his recommendations:

If only Signor Don Giovanni had been willing to listen to my opinion concerning the music of the comedy and to Bernardo’s on matters concerning the machines, I believe everything would have been terminated and finished, and the music would have been proportionate to the place and to the theatre, and the money would have been spent with greater satisfaction to the listeners. Giulio Romano, too, would have had his satisfaction and been given something to do that he was capable of doing.75

Cavalieri’s view that the music was disproportionate to the theatre would certainly seem appropriate for Caccini’s six-voice setting of “Ineffabile ardore,” which is fairly feeble even in the context of a style that perforce demanded simplicity and grandiose sonic effects rather than subtle contrapuntal skill; it does not bear comparison with even the more routine choruses of the 1589 intermedi. But Caccini’s recitative, too, seems to have been felt inappropriate, both because of its lack of interest—“like the chanting of the Passion” reported Cavalieri, while Cardinal Aldobrandini noted that it too easily became boring—and, presumably, because it was too intimate for the theatre. However, Peri’s Euridice does not seem to have fared much better, for all that it was done on a smaller scale in a more restricted space. The tenor of all the criticisms of the music for the 1600 festivities was that it lacked sufficient variety and magnificence, and therefore failed to fulfill its proper function in the context of the politics of spectacle. As had been Peri’s strategy in the preface to Euridice, Buonarroti attempted to mitigate the problem by associating Il rapimento with the fabled power of music on the stages of classical antiquity: it was a weak argument in the face of the realities of seventeenth-century court theatre.

7.2 Claims that Il rapimento was a “dead end” because of its emphasis on theatrical display at the expense of dramatic integrity, and because of the fact that the Florentines subsequently reverted to earlier theatrical models,76 miss the point that plenty of later Florentine (and other) indoor and outdoor court entertainments in the seventeenth century variously adopted the mixture of drama, scenic spectacle, music, and dance seen here. The inherent conservatism of Il rapimento may instead lie more in its poetic structures and their apparent reflection of Chiabrera’s views on music on the stage. There is an intriguing paradox: Chiabrera, long blamed for the introduction of canzonetta forms and styles—and hence musical arias—into theatrical music was himself reluctant to initiate the trend in his first libretto. Also, the debates of the seventeenth century and beyond over what kind of poetry should be linked with what kind of music in the theatre appear in embryo not so much in early seventeenth-century theoretical statements concerning opera—which are relatively silent on the issue—as in their practical realisations.77 In that light, Il rapimento adds significantly to our understanding of the surprisingly wide range of options currently being explored by the Florentines and those associated with them in placing music within the theatre, and in tempering both in the service of courtly festivity. What posterity made of those options is another matter altogether.

 

Appendix: Partial Reconstruction of Gabriello Chiabrera, Il rapimento di Cefalo

References

* Tim Carter (cartert@email.unc.edu) is David G. Frey Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of the Cambridge Opera Handbook on Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (1987), Jacopo Peri (1561–1633): His Life and Works (1989), Music in Late Renaissance and Early Baroque Italy (1992), and Monteverdi’s Musical Theatre (2002). He has also published numerous journal articles and essays, now reprinted in Music, Patronage and Printing in Late Renaissance Florence and Monteverdi and his Contemporaries (both 2000).

1. The text is edited in Angelo Solerti, Gli albori del melodramma, 3 vols. (Milan: Sandron, 1904; reprint, Bologna: Forni, 1976), 3:29–58. It was published in 1600 in Florence by Giorgio Marescotti in two separate editions, one in a more luxurious format than the other (see Ottavio Varaldo, “Bibliografia delle opere a stampa di Gabriello Chiabrera,” Giornale ligustico 13 [1886]: 273–87, 356–85, 414–70, at 286). Of the three copies in the British Library, London, two (839.g.45; Hirsch IV.1322.a) have the text of the play in roman type with rather poor printing, and one (840.g.33) more elegantly in italic; the former take up twenty pages, and the latter (which also has additional decorations) 27 (with Marescotti’s device on p. [28]). However, the texts are identical save minor variants of orthography, and both editions are put together relatively simply, without a dedication or other similar matter: both could have acted as a “program” for the performance. The play was included in the first part of the unauthorised 1605 edition of Chiabrera’s Rime (Venice: Sebastiano Combi; reprinted in 1610) collected by Pier Girolamo Gentile, although this introduces some errors (including a missing line for Titone; see below) that get reproduced (and added to) in subsequent editions of Chiabrera’s works, on one of which Solerti seems to have based his own edition and to which he added further mistakes (including some erroneous line-numbering). Thus Solerti’s text is one line short (657 rather than 658; but I continue to refer to lines by Solerti’s numbering) and omits other important details. Il rapimento receives some useful discussion in various contributions (cited below) to La scelta della misura. Gabriello Chiabrera: l’altro fuoco del barocco italiano. Atti del Convegno di Studi su Gabriello Chiabrera nel 350o anniversario della morte, Savona, 3–6 novembre 1988, ed. Fulvio Bianchi and Paolo Russo (Genoa: Edizioni Costa e Nolan, 1993).

2. Michelangelo Buonarroti, Descrizione delle felicissime nozze … della Cristianissima Maestà di Madama Maria Medici, Regina di Francia e di Navarra (Florence: Giorgio Marescotti, 1600), in idem, Opere varie in versi ed in prosa, ed. Pietro Fanfani (Florence: Le Monnier, 1894), 403–54; the description of Il rapimento is also included in Solerti, Gli albori del melodramma, 3:9–28. In the 1600 edition, Il rapimento occupies sixteen (pp. 24–40) out of some 40 pages, whereas the Rinuccini-Peri Euridice has just one (pp. 22–23). For the problems faced by Buonarroti in drafting his description, which was in effect censored by the Grand Duke and his officials, see Tim Carter, “Non occorre nominare tanti musici: Private Patronage and Public Ceremony in Late Sixteenth-Century Florence,” I Tatti Studies: Essays in the Renaissance 4 (1991; also in idem, Music, Patronage and Printing in Late Renaissance Florence, Variorum Collected Studies Series CS682 [Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000]), 89–104. Buonarroti had obtained an imprimatur dated 29 September 1600—i.e., the description was originally to have appeared before the festivities—but the dedication to Maria de’ Medici is dated 20 November.

3. Le ravissement de Cefale. Representé à Florence aux Nopces Royalles. Traduit d’Italien en François. Par N. Chrétien Sieur des Croix Argentenois. Avec un Cantique presenté à Monseigneur le Dauphin, le iour de son Baptesme (Rouen: Theodore Reinsart, 1608), discussed in Daniela Dalla Valle, “Gabriello Chiabrera tradotto in francese: ‘Le Ravissement de Céfale’ di Chrétien des Croix,” in La scelta della misura, ed. Bianchi and Russo, 503–17. Despite the separate title-page, this was in effect published as one of four fascicles in a collection called Les tragédies de Nicolas Chrétien, sieur des Croix; the Cantique had been published previously in 1606. It is possible that Chrétien was seeking to use the print as self-advertisement for the post of tutor to the dauphin, although he never gained it. He used one or other of the editions from 1600 (he includes the notes about the incomplete choruses; see below), translating the text into rather leisurely decasyllabic rhyming couplets (for the most part); the text is significantly longer but not substantively different. It is curious, however, that there is no reference at all to Chiabrera in this edition. According to the (undated) dedication to the dauphin: “Voicy les Dieux Payens qu’un Chrétien vous presente, non sur un si magnifique Theatre que celuy de Florence (ou ils receurent plus d’honneur, de gloire, & d’harmonie entr’eux qu’en leur Ciel, pour honorer le Mariage dont vous estes l’heureux fruit:) mais sur des feuilles …” Clearly this is a translation for reading rather than performing (and it would not have fit the music); also, certain sentenze are emphasised by quotation marks. The edition further contains an “Ordre de la Representation du Ravissement de Cefale” (given in Dalla Valle, “Gabriello Chiabrera tradotto in francese,” 515–16 n. 31), which outlines the action and gives some brief account of the staging. This seems derived from Buonarroti’s description rather than just deduced from the libretto (Chrétien describes the appearance of Parnassus for the prologue, and also the final ballo), although there are some divergences, noted below. However, it is possible, perhaps likely, that it is some version of a text prepared for the 1600 performance and now lost, in which case its contents may have some authority.

4. See Cesare Molinari, Le nozze degli dèi: un saggio sul grande spettacolo italiano nel Seicento, Biblioteca Teatrale: Studi 3 (Rome: Mario Bulzoni, 1968), 43–49; Sara Mamone, Firenze e Parigi: due capitali dello spettacolo per una regina (Milan: Amilcare Pizzi, 1987), 81–98; Massimo Ossi, “Dalle macchine … la maraviglia: Bernardo Buontalenti’s Il rapimento di Cefalo at the Medici Theater in 1600,” in Opera in Context, ed. Mark A. Radice (Portland, Oreg.: Amadeus Press, 1998), 15–35. The following discussion owes some debt to both Mamone and Ossi, although we differ in our readings of the staging and content.

5. See Tim Carter, Jacopo Peri (1561–1633): His Life and Works (New York and London: Garland, 1989), 47: “Although Il rapimento was unified by a single plot it was, in fact, little more than a series of glorified intermedi, with the elaborate scenic transformations that had become so characteristic of Florentine court entertainments.”

6. A term I use for convenience, with all the usual caveats about its anachronism, and about the prevalence in the early seventeenth century of other terms for the genre (favola in musica, etc.).

7. William V. Porter, “Peri and Corsi’s Dafne: Some New Discoveries and Observations,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 18 (1965): 170–96.

8. They are conveniently located in one place in Composing Opera: from “Dafne” to “Ulisse errante” , ed. and trans. Zygmunt Szweykowski and Tim Carter, Practica Musica 2 (Kraków: Musica Iagellonica, 1994).

9. See Edmond Strainchamps, “New Light on the Accademia degli Elevati of Florence,” The Musical Quarterly 62 (1976): 507–35. Caccini was to be involved in the breakaway group (headed by Santi Orlandi) that emerged in mid-1609; for this new academy, see Tim Carter, “Per cagione di bene, et giustamente vivere: Some Thoughts on the Musical Patronage of Giovanni de’ Bardi,” in Neoplatonismo, musica, letteratura nel Rinascimento: I Bardi di Vernio e l’Accademia della Crusca; atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi, Firenze–Vernio, 25–26 settembre 1998, ed. Piero Gargiulo, Alessandro Magini, and Stéphane Toussaint, Cahiers di «Accademia» (Paris: Société Marsile Ficin, 2000), 137–46.

10. In Lyra barberina, ed. Antonio Francesco Gori, 2 vols. (Florence: Typis caesareis, 1763), 2:249–64. Extracts from this and other relevant treatises are given in Angelo Solerti, Le origini del melodramma (Turin: Bocca, 1903; reprint, Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1969).

11. See Tim Carter, “A Florentine Wedding of 1608,” Acta musicologica 55 (1983; also in idem, Music, Patronage and Printing in Late Renaissance Florence): 89–107.

12. The comments come from a postscript probably to Cavalieri’s letter of 24 November 1600; I have taken the translation largely from Claude V. Palisca, “Musical Asides in the Diplomatic Correspondence of Emilio de’ Cavalieri,” in idem, Studies in the History of Italian Music and Music Theory (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 389–407, at 403–404, with some corrections.

13. Sara Mamone, “Feste e spettacoli a Firenze e in Francia per le nozze di Maria de’ Medici con Enrico IV,” in Il teatro de’ Medici, ed. Ludovico Zorzi, Quaderni di Teatro 2/7 (Florence: Vallecchi, 1980), 206–28, at 218, citing the Diario del viaggio fatto dal Cardinal Piero Aldobrandini nell’andare legato a Firenze per la celebrazione del sponsalizio della Regina di Francia, et in Francia per la pace: “l’apparato scenico e gl’intermedi meritò molta lode,” but “il modo di cantarla venne facilmente a noia … oltre che non sempre il movimento delle macchine è riuscito felice.” Aldobrandini had been nominated by the Pope to conduct the wedding ceremony.

14. Guido Bentivoglio’s account (from Memorie del Cardinal Bentivoglio [Milan: Società tipografica dei classici italiani, 1807]) is given, along with others, in Warren Kirkendale, The Court Musicians in Florence during the Principate of the Medici, with a Reconstruction of the Artistic Establishment, Historiae Musicae Cultores Biblioteca 61 (Florence: L. Olschki, 1993), 137–40. I have further relied on Kirkendale’s collection of documents for other comments discussed below.

15. See Metamorphoses, VII. Chiabrera foreshortens the tale rather as Rinuccini does that of Orpheus. According to Ovid, Cephalus rejected Aurora, who then placed a curse upon him that he would mistrust his wife’s fidelity. He returns home in disguise and tests her; when Procris succumbs to the stranger, Cephalus reveals himself, and she leaves the house in shame to dedicate herself to Diana, the goddess of hunting. Cephalus repents and asks her forgiveness, and they are reconciled. However, another tale of jealousy then unfolds as Procris suspects Cephalus of infidelity, and while surreptitously watching him in the woods, she is killed by his javelin. However, there are other variants of the tale. Some Chiabrera scholars have been tempted, given the common view of the poet’s being influenced by the French, to see the roots of his version of the Cephalus tale in Ronsard’s Ode XVI (“Le ravissement de Céphale”), but there seem to be few other direct links.

16. Its various episodes were also commonly treated in contemporary painting, the most notable being Agostino and Annibale Caracci’s fresco of Cephalus and Aurora on the ceiling of the Galleria Farnese in Rome, completed in 1600. As an aside, it seems likely that Poussin’s Cephalus and Aurora (1627–30; London, National Gallery) draws specifically on Il rapimento, perhaps via Chrétien’s translation: the scene includes Pegasus, a water-god (sometimes identified as Oceanus), an earth-goddess (so, Berecyntia?), and Apollo on his chariot.

17. According to Buonarroti, the story also appeared on the decoration of Febo’s chariot in Act II of Il rapimento.

18. Nino Pirrotta, Music and Theatre from Poliziano to Monteverdi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 10–11.

19. Niccolò da Correggio, Opere: “Cefalo,” “Psiche,” “Silva,” rime, ed. Antonia Tissoni Benvenuti (Bari: Laterza, 1969), 5–45. Correggio’s play, which is predominantly in ottava rima, covers the whole Cephalus-Procris tale, although Diana appears at the end as a dea ex machina to restore Procris to life and therefore provide a lieto fine. A few references in the rubrics to singing suggest that music was used in the performance, but not throughout.

20. This was the standard “message” drawn from the tale in, say, the ever-popular Le Metamorfosi di Ovidio: ridotte da Gio[vanni] Andrea dell’Anguillara in ottava rima con le Annotationi di M. Gioseppe Horologgi, e gli argomenti & postille di M. Francesco Turchi (Venice: Francesco de’ Franceschini, 1568).

21. For example, in the prose moralization of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Reg. 1686, compiled in 1466–67 by a French cleric from Angers in Normandy (see Ovide moralisé en prose [texte du quinzième siècle], ed. C. de Boer, Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, afd. Letterkunde, new series 61/2 [Amsterdam: Noord-Hollandsche Uitgevers, 1954], 221–22), Aurora is equated with the Blessed Virgin leading the pagan Cephalus to the path of righteousness (while the javelin by which he later kills Procris is the Word of God). For the influence of such moralizations on the later sixteenth century, see Leofranc Holford-Strevens, “‘Her eyes became two spouts’: Classical Antecedents of Renaissance Laments,” Early Music 27 (1999): 379–93.

22. Solerti, Gli albori del melodramma, 3:24.

23. Compare the discussion in Anne MacNeil, “Weeping at the Water’s Edge,” Early Music 27 (1999): 407–17.

24. I first discussed some of the implications of this courtly trend, particularly for the mixed fortunes of opera in the early seventeenth century, in my “The North Italian Courts,” in Man and Music: The Early Baroque Era; From the Late 16th Century to the 1660s, ed. Curtis Price (London: Macmillan, 1993), 23–48. It also relates to the tendency of court entertainments (including Il rapimento) somehow to cross the proscenium from stage to auditorium, whether physically or conceptually.

25. Pirrotta, Music and Theatre from Poliziano to Monteverdi, 45–46. Correggio’s play was often printed, at least in the first half of the sixteenth century. Rinuccini’s contribution to the 1600 festivities also seems to have harked back to a fifteenth-century model, Angelo Poliziano’s La fabula d’Orfeo (Mantua, ca.1480), while Poliziano himself appeared as a character in the festa provided by Riccardo Riccardi in the gardens of his palace on 8 October as part of the celebrations.

26. Le nozze degli dèi, 43. For example, the play at the centre of the 1589 festivities, Girolamo Bargagli’s La pellegrina, had originally been written in 1564.

27. Other diarists (e.g., Francesco d’Abramo) say that it began “a un’ora di notte,” i.e., one hour after sunset.

28. See, for example, Kirkendale, The Court Musicians in Florence, 137. This is a long debate going back to Molinari, Le nozze degli dèi, 51, replayed in Mamone, Firenze e Parigi, 83. But for all Molinari’s and Mamone’s comments (which I broadly follow here), the issue has still generated confusion; see, for example, Elvira Garbero Zorzi, “L’immagine della festa medicea: la tradizione di un mito,” in Claudio Monteverdi: studi e prospettive; atti del convegno, Mantova, 21–24 ottobre 1993, ed. Paola Besutti, Teresa M. Gialdroni, and Rodolfo Baroncini, Accademia Nazionale Virgiliana di Scienze, Lettere e Arti: Miscellanea 5 (Florence: L. Olschki, 1998), 431–49. Zorzi favors the Pirrotta line (cited below, reference 31), but also suggests that some clear stylistic musical distinction was made between the play and its intermedi so as to prompt contemporaries to perceive the latter as separate. Certainly, and as we shall see, different musical styles were used in Il rapimento, but not, it would seem, in such systematic ways.

29. Don Giovanni de’ Medici’s involvement, discussed further below, was also noted by Battista Guarini, who wrote (Kirkendale, The Court Musicians in Florence, 137) of “le meraviglie del gran convito d’una pastorale cantata del Signor Chiabrera, condita con miracoli, che non si sono mai più uditi, opera dell’Illustrissimo Signor Don Giovanni de’ Medici.”

30. For Aldobrandini, see above, reference 13. Cardinal Bentivoglio referred “all’eccellenza degli intramezzi delle macchine, de’ canti, de’ suoni, e altri mille trattenimenti che del continuo rapivano il teatro in ammirazione” (Kirkendale, The Court Musicians in Florence, 138), but here he may be using the term in the sense not of intermedi but of side-dishes in a banquet.

31. Pace the remark in Pirrotta, Music and Theatre from Poliziano to Monteverdi, 238 n. 6: “Caccini was in charge of all the solo parts—that is, practically the basic play—plus the final chorus; at least three other composers wrote the other choruses, which, combined with spectacular changes of scenery taking place under the very eyes of the audience, formed the intermedi, imbedded, so to speak, in the main action.”

32. Curiously, Chrétien (“Ordre de la Representation du Ravissement de Cefale”), has the epilogue involve the reappearance of Parnassus (from the prologue).

33. According to Mamone (Firenze e Parigi, 97 n. 1), work began on 13 July 1600.

34. See Zorzi, “L’immagine delle festa medicea,” passim. Zorzi also links to the staging of Il rapimento Buontalenti sketches which scholars have previously associated with earlier intermedi.

35. For the intermedi to Il pastor fido, see Alessandro d’Ancona, Origini del teatro italiano, 2 vols., 2d rev. ed. (Turin: Loescher, 1891), 2:570–72, relaying the account in Giovanni Battista Grillo, Breve trattato di quanto successe alla maesta della regina D. Margarita d’Austria N.S. dalla città di Trento … sino alla città di Genova (Naples: Costantino Vitale, 1604). The theme was the wedding of Mercury and Philology. As the curtain rose, the city of Mantua was seen, with Venere (Venus), Espero (Hesperus), and the star Giulia in a cloud; they sang a madrigal to Margherita. Nymphs and shepherds then entered, and Mincio and Manto (and her son Ocno), representing the city of Mantua, rose from the waters. Then Mantua disappeared, and the scene changed to reveal the Arcadian set of the play. The first intermedio was set in the Elysian Fields: Giunone (Juno) entered on a chariot drawn by peacocks, and Iride (Iris) announced the marriage of Mercurio and Filologia. Sixteen poets celebrated in vocal and instrumental music before the scene changed to the Inferno, with the river Lethe and Caronte (Charon) on his boat ferrying Plutone (Pluto) on his way to celebrate the wedding with Giove (Jupiter). In the second intermedio, an earthquake caused the scene to change to reveal clouds and sea. Four winds appeared, then Discordia (Discord), angry for not having been invited to the wedding. A group of Indian fishermen invoked Venus to give them corals and pearls to present as wedding gifts. From the sea emerged Glauco (Glaucus), tritons, and other marine deities, and a large whale, then Nettuno (Neptune), who rose to Olympus. Similar underground rumblings marked the beginning of the third intermedio, revealing Berecintia followed by Apollo, who sang an epithalamium to the harp to Filologia, who was seated on Parnassus. All then ascended to heaven, where Giove embraced the bride. The fourth intermedio, set in a city, involved the appearance of the twelve months, and then Fama (Fame) and Tempo (Time) discussing the happy event. The heavens opened to reveal the marriage pair, with Pace (Peace) on high; the scene depicted many regions, with monuments of all kinds. For the final licenza, all the gods appeared in the heavens, while on earth shepherds and corybants invoked Imeneo (Hymen) in song, ending with a moresca.

36. Cited in Tim Carter, Music in Late Renaissance and Early Baroque Italy (London: Batsford; Portland, Oreg.: Amadeus Press, 1992), 156.

37. Don Giovanni de’ Medici had something of a reputation as a soldier—as a “generale” of Emperor Rudolph II’s artillery, he distinguished himself against the Turks in 1594 (see Avvisi di Giaverino venuti di Ratisbona dalli 22 d’Agosto 1594 [Florence: Alle Scalee di Badia, 1594])—and, if to a lesser extent, as a patron (he was the dedicatee of Giovanni Battista Leoni’s tragicomedy Antiloco [Venice: G. B. Ciotti, 1602]). In Florence, he was closely associated with Jacopo Corsi, who may have exploited the association to further his own involvement in the 1600 festivities; see Tim Carter, “Music and Patronage in Late Sixteenth-Century Florence: The Case of Jacopo Corsi (1561–1602),” I Tatti Studies: Essays in the Renaissance 1 (1985; also in idem, Music, Patronage and Printing in Late Renaissance Florence): 57–104, passim. He was also later involved as a patron of commedia dell’arte troupes; see Mamone, Firenze e Parigi, 81.

38. The problematic relationship between Don Giovanni de’ Medici and Buontalenti dates back at least to the problems over the design of the Fortezza del Belvedere in Florence in 1590. They crossed swords in the two competitions for the design of the Medici mausoleum in 1597 and 1602. The latter was won by Don Giovanni, Alessandro Pieroni, and Matteo Nigetti (against Buontalenti and Gherardo Silvani); construction began in 1604.

39. Florence, Casa Buonarroti, Archivio Buonarroti 88, fol. 102r: “Laonde lode singolarissima e non più udita a Bernardo Buontalenti per lo più inventore di esse <pervenne; benche Sr Don Gio. de Med. (il quale ad aggrandire maggiormente si degne nozze si imprese l’universal cura[)] di ogni affare vi avesse veramente avuta parte suprema, cura tale e si grande, che da altri che da lui, per la multiplicità e di facultà delle cose, non avria già mai potuto aver compimento, cura grande davero se riguardar se dee a chi onorar si doveva e alle fatiche; ma piacevole sì, e non grande a chi avvezzo a macchine debellatrici delle citta di hattare, e dar movimento, poco di per vero potea avere le sceniche adoperando quantunque meravigliose. Ma quivi a real diletto adattandole con l’esempio di Paolo Emilio, che espugnator de Macedoni talora desse esser opera di uno stesso ordinar acconciamente un esercito, e apparecchiar un convito; diede cagione di argomentare da minori esercizi et eziandio i maggiori da un medesimo genre dependenti, e gia da lui messa in opera.> Dalle macchine adunque la meraviglia, che è la prima …” (the continuation of this text is given in reference 51, below). The passage in angled brackets was omitted from the final version and replaced by a shorter comment offering praise to Buontalenti, Alessandro Pieroni “e agli altri che buona parte vi ebbero” (Solerti, Gli albori del melodramma, 3:27). Pieroni, a Florentine artist, was involved with Don Giovanni de’ Medici in the 1602 competition for the Cappella dei Principi (see above, reference 38), but his role in the 1600 festivities remains unclear. Don Giovanni’s intervention in the descrizione is noted in Buonarroti’s letter to Francesco Paulsanti of 14 November 1600 (Florence, Casa Buonarroti, Archivio Buonarroti 51, no. 1419).

40. There were 75 according to Caccini in Le nuove musiche: “Ultimo Coro del Rapimento di Cefalo consertato tra voci e stromenti da settantacinque persone in mezza Luna tanto quanto tenea la Scena onde poi ne seguì altri conserti, & il ballo il quale ad altra occasione manderò fuori.”

41. For these statistics, and their implications, see Tim Carter, “Lamenting Ariadne?” , Early Music 27 (1999): 395–405. There I argued that the prominence of the title-role in Arianna was largely due to its being performed by a leading comedian, Virginia Andreini; clearly, that argument needs modifying in the light of the present study.

42. In his letter to Alessandro Striggio of 7 May 1627; see The Letters of Claudio Monteverdi, trans. Denis Stevens, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), 319–21. Monteverdi also complains about the number of tenors needed for the shepherds and the libretto’s overall lack of variety. Narciso (like Il rapimento) has five female roles (Filli, Eco, Lidia, Amarilli, and Diana).

43. In “A Florentine Wedding of 1608,” 98, I suggested that Narciso was probably written for the 1608 festivities in Florence, of which Caccini was musical director and in which his singers took a leading role.

44. Solerti, Gli albori del melodramma, 3:12: “… avendo [Caccini] nel metterla in opera e a cantarla a suo uopo elettisi più di cento musici, et esercitatili e raffinatili: e tutti, a sommo onore della fiorentina scuola, o vassalli, o stipendiati di questa corte, eccettuatone il solo Melchiorre Palantrotti, musico ottimo della cappella pontificale. De’ quale la maggior parte assegnata a’ cori, un fiore de’ più eccellenti lasciò alla recitazione della stessa favola, oltre a un suo figliuolo e a quattro donne di sua famiglia di voci angeliche, ottimamente da lui nel cantare addisciplinate: e nel cantare rappresentativo e nell’azione per degno modo specialmente. Dalle quali poi tutti i personaggi, che di donne avevano nella favola, da quella della Notte in poi, furono isquisitamente rappresentato.”

45. It is, of course, clear that allegorical characters, goddesses, and even female mortals were not perforce played by women in this period. In an (unspecified) performance of Euridice (whether Peri’s or Caccini’s is unclear), Tragedia (the prologue) and Venere/Proserpina were played by castratos, and Dafne by a boy, with only Euridice played by a woman; see Claude V. Palisca, “The First Performance of Euridice,” in idem, Studies in the History of Italian Music and Music Theory, 432–51, at 445. Monteverdi’s Orfeo was most probably done by an all-male cast, and certainly the castrato Giovanni Gualberto Magli sang Musica in the prologue; see Tim Carter, “Singing Orfeo: On the Performers of Monteverdi’s First Opera,” Recercare 11 (1999): 75–118.

46. I have tried to place such practical matters as the allocation and doubling of roles high on the agenda for any critical or other reading of early seventeenth-century opera in my “Singing Orfeo.” The practice of doubling was frowned upon by the anonymous author of Il corago (I-MOe g.F.6.11, ca.1630; see Il corago, o vero Alcune osservazioni per metter bene in scena le composizioni drammatiche, ed. Paolo Fabbri and Angelo Pompilio, Studi e Testi per la Storia della Musica 4 [Florence: L. Olschki, 1983], 67) on the grounds that audiences tended to recognise singers’ voices, although he admitted that it happened (by implication, quite often), and recommended that in such cases the vocal writing should be kept distinct so as to aid the deception.

47. For Margherita, see Kirkendale, The Court Musicians in Florence, 161–62. She had married Caccini by the time the family made its tour to France in Autumn 1604; in the preface to Le nuove musiche (the dedication is dated 1 February 1601/2), however, Caccini refers (with some respect) to his “moglie passata,” i.e., Lucia, who was excellent in performing trilli. This suggests that Caccini had not yet remarried.

48. For Ginevra Mazziere, see Timothy McGee, “Pompeo Caccini and Euridice: New Biographical Notes,” Renaissance and Reformation 26 (1990): 81–99. Pompeo Caccini became involved with her when teaching her a “prologue” for the 1600 festivities at the request of Jacopo Corsi and Ottavio Rinuccini, which leads McGee (plausibly enough) to suggest that this was the prologue to Euridice. There is no other reference to her having performed in the 1600 festivities.

49. For him, see Kirkendale, The Court Musicians in Florence, 162–63; he was born in either 1578 or early 1579, and pace McGee (“Pompeo Caccini and Euridice”) was almost certainly not the illegitimate child arising from the well-known “test” of Vincenzo Gonzaga’s virility.

50. Trabocchi was singing in Florence by June 1598, although he entered the court roll only on 29 August 1602; he left service on 1 April 1609 and was admitted to the Cappella Sistina two days later (see Kirkendale, The Court Musicians in Florence, 296–99). He performed the role of Plutone in an unidentified performance of Euridice; see Palisca, “The First Performance of Euridice,” 445. There were other basses in Florence who also took part in that performance of Euridice, including Piero Mon (Radamanto) and a “Frate della Nunziata” (Caronte). Another singer (of unidentified range), Piero Amadori, in 1603 used his services “nelle commedie passate” (testified by Caccini) to support his case for the post of sacrestan at the Duomo; see Tim Carter, “Crossing the Boundaries: Sacred, Civic and Ceremonial Space in Late Sixteenth- and Early Seventeenth-Century Florence,” in Atti del VII centenario del Duomo di Firenze, vol. 3: “Cantate domino”: musica nei secoli per il Duomo di Firenze: atti del convegno internazionale di studi (Firenze, 23–25 maggio 1997), ed. Piero Gargiulo et al. (Florence: Edizioni Firenze, 2001), 139–46.

51. Solerti, Gli albori del melodramma, 3:27–28: “Dalle macchine adunque la meraviglia, che è la prima cagione dello imparare, ed è fine in somigliante cose dello inventore di esse, fuori di ogni capacità vi s’apprese: dalla nobile e graziosa favola la moralità e ’l costumo divino e l’umano; il quale con bel decoro essendovi espresso, ne purgava le menti degli uditori, traendoli a giustizia e a dirittura di vero amore; come ancora si potette trarre dallo ‘ntessimento di parole ottime, che immagini sono pe’ pensieri interni, e dalla squisita e rara musica e varia, ottimamente a’ personaggi e a’ concetti adattata e non simile più forse udita, dalla quale non senza proporzione tal’ora fu detta esser composta l’anima umana.”

52. This is the tenor of the (very useful) argument in Marzio Pieri, “La drammaturgia di Chiabrera,” in La scelta della misura, ed. Bianchi and Russo, 401–28.

53. For Chiabrera and Corsi, see my “Music and Patronage in Late Renaissance Florence,” passim; Kirkendale, The Court Musicians in Florence, 606. Chiabrera entered the court roll on 1 November 1600 as a reward for his contribution to the 1600 festivities, although he was not a permanent resident in Florence. He wrote numerous occasional poems in honour of Florentines, including Don Giovanni de’ Medici (usually praised for his military skills, and secondarily for his interest in the arts), Jacopo Corsi, Riccardo Riccardi, and Piero Strozzi, etc., and likewise his letters of the mid-1590s refer to them; see Ottavio Varaldo, Rime e lettere inedite di Gabriello Chiabrera (Savona: Domenico Bertolotto, 1888).

54. See Il rapimento, Act IV, ll. 377–80: “Di che diletti il cor così cantando / antica Berecintia torreggiante? / Rammenti forse i celebrati ardori / de’ trapassati amori?” Berecintia replies (ll. 385–89): “Non canto no, non canto / miei trapassati ardori; / canto i novelli amori / onde la bella Aurora infiammi et ardi, / e piango il grave mal, cui tu non guardi.” There are other perhaps more conventional references to singing in the Prologue (see above), and by Amore to the Coro di Amori in Act II (ll. 238: “dal vivo avorio della gola or esca / l’aura gentil delle soavi voci”) and to the Coro degli dei in Act V (ll. 521–22: “voi su nel ciel cantate / la mia gran potestate”). This is a not uncommon strategy in early (and indeed, later) librettos to justify singing on stage; Striggio’s Orfeo has several obvious examples.

55. The 1600 edition of the libretto has a note at the end of each final chorus in Acts I–III, “Manca il rimanente del coro”; the repeated comment is missing in the 1605 edition, and in subsequent ones variously based upon it (including Solerti’s), which therefore give the misleading impression that these choruses consisted of only one strophe each.

56. Again, problems in the sources have intervened to obscure the point: according to the 1600 edition, the opening of the lament should read (following Solerti’s editorial style): “Chi mi conforta ahimè! che più consolami? / Or che ’l mio sol, che sì bei raggi adornano, / il desiato lume, ahi lasso, involami? / La bellissima Aurora …” The third line—also present in the setting included in Le nuove musiche—is omitted in the 1605 and later editions (and therefore also by Solerti). The terza rima scheme is clear (and the concluding quatrain is conventional to the form), although the rhymes themselves are less varied than one might expect, chiefly because of the limited number of line-endings possible within versi sdruccioli.

57. I build here on the powerful, if brief, remarks in Paolo Fabbri, “Metro letterario e metro musicale nelle pagine di un critico di Chiabrera: il ‘Discorso delle ragioni del numero del verso italiano’ di Lodovico Zuccolo,” in La scelta della misura, ed. Bianchi and Russo, 342–52.

58. In his Trattato delle musica scenica (ca.1633), Doni accused Cavalieri of writing “ariette … che non hanno che fare niente con la buona e vera musica teatrale”; see Solerti, Le origini del melodramma, 208.

59. Il Bamberini, ovvero Degli ardimenti del verseggiare, in Opere di Gabriello Chiabrera e lirici del classicismo barocco, ed. Marcello Turchi, 2nd ed. (Turin: UTET, 1974; reprint, 1984), 584–600, at 586–87: “io vi ammonirei che le canzoni, sì come ne fa intendere il nome, si cantano, e però se il canto dovesse essere con quei passaggi di gorga e con quei modi eccellenti di artificio, io comporrei di strofe brevi, perché le lunghe ammettersi in quella musica, troppo più di tempo consumerebbono, che l’orecchie dell’uditore comportassero con pazienza: ben è vero che per le lunghe potrebbesi canto ritrovare spedito e simigliante allo schietto favellare, ed io mi dò ad intendere che tale adoperassero i Greci nel recitare i coro della tragedia; ed in Firenze, nelle reali feste, sopra le scene comincia a farsi sentire, ma secondo me non ancora perfettamente.” Chiabrera’s “reali feste” could in fact refer to the “royal” wedding in 1600, but it may just be a generic term.

60. Transcribed in Franco Vazzoler, “Chiabrera fra dilettanti e professionisti dello spettacolo,” in La scelta della misura, ed. Bianchi and Russo, 429–66, at 441–42: “Intorno al rapresentare la favoletta io sono di parere, che le cose fino a qui non si accostino alla maniera antica; e questo avviene, che i musici non veggono il diritto della scena; et è argomento di ciò che noi habbiamo le tragedie greche, le quali si cantavano nei teatri; et esse possono anco rapresentarsi senza cantarle; ma le moderne cantate non possono già recitarsi senza canto, et haver gratia appresso gli uditori; ammaestrare i musici è cosa lunga; e però io ho composto in modo che basta per cantarsi; e se io dovessi mai servire a padroni, secondo el mio parere, vorrei mettere in scena una favola per sé grave, e darle tanto soavita di canto, quanta a lei fosse assai, e non guardare alle belle arie de’ musici; ma forse ciò non darebbe diletto al popolo; sì che l’esperienza ha da farne lume.” Chiabrera’s “soavita di canto” would seem to refer to the musical quality of the verse itself rather than any musical setting. Chiabrera did praise the “arie musicali” he heard in danced entertainments in Florence (see the remarks cited in ibid., 463 n. 47), but they, of course, formed part of a different genre. The “favoletta” under discussion with Striggio would seem to have been Angelica in Ebuda; see Pieri, “La drammaturgia di Chiabrera,” 402.

61. One suspects that the reasons were financial, perhaps stemming from a lack of support or interest from the Medici court. Certainly Caccini seems to have had to finance his publications himself, with or without the help of a dedicatee; see the evidence for Le nuove musiche in Tim Carter, “Music-Printing in Late Sixteenth- and Early Seventeenth-Century Florence: Giorgio Marescotti, Cristofano Marescotti and Zanobi Pignoni,” Early Music History 9 (1989; also in idem, Music, Patronage and Printing in Late Renaissance Florence): 27–72, at 63–64.

62. “Non havendo io potuto per molti impedimenti far’ istampare com’era il desiderio mio il Rapimento di Cefalo composto in musica da me per comandamento del Serenissimo Gran Duca mio Signore rappresentato nello sposalizio della Cristianissima Maria Medici Regina di Francia, e di Navarra, mi è parso ora con l’occasione di quest’altre mie musiche aggiugnere à quelle l’ultimo Coro di esso Rapimento, accioche vedutasi la varietà de i passaggi fatti da me per le parti, che cantano sole, io non sia necessitato farne altra dimostrazione, com’havea pensato, potendosi nella parte del Basso, che tal volta ricerca le corde del Tenore, e ne’ due Tenori seguenti osservare le regole usate da me intorno alle sillabe, e lunghe, e brevi. E benche io non habbia usato la buona, e la cattiva secondo le regole del contrappunto, così in queste parti come nell’altre mie musiche, ove intervengono tali adornamenti, non dimeno perche non ho usato di ripercuotere nel rigiro di essi la corda del Basso nelle dissonanze, ciò giudico, che si debba permettere, e per questo, e per la varietà loro, come anco per lo privilegio, che deve havere in questa parte, chi canta solo, non potendo errare con le parte di mezzo, come errore grande sarebbe, se nelle altre musiche, che si costumano à più voci qualunque parte facesse passaggi, bastando allora per non corrompere l’artifittio [sic] del contrappunto in esse (oltre à molti errori in che si può incorrere) usare solo la buona maniera, e l’affetto, del quale nel Discorso sopra à bastanza per dichiarazione si è favellato.” For a translation, and for the music, see Giulio Caccini, Le nuove musiche (1602), ed. H. Wiley Hitchcock, Recent Researches in the Music of the Baroque Era 9 (Madison, Wisc.: A-R Editions, 1970).

63. “Quest’Aria cantò solo con i proprij passaggi come sta Melchior Palontrotti Musico Eccellente della Cappella di Nostro Signore”; “Quest’aria cantò solo con altri passaggi secondo il suo stile Iacopo Peri, Musico Eccellente stipendiato da queste Altezze Serenissime”; “Quest’aria cantò solo parte con i propri passaggi, e parte à suo gusto il famoso Francesco Rasi Nobile Aretino, molto grato Servitore all’Altezza Serenissima di Mantova.”

64. Chrétien (“Ordre de la Representation du Ravissement de Cefale”) says that “Cinq des signes celestes” speak to Notte; the libretto has one portion of text for “Uno de’ Segni celesti,” three portions for “Un altro Segno,” and a last one for “Uno dei Segni.”

65. Piero di Matteo di Lorenzo Strozzi (born 30 July 1552; see I-Fas Libro d’età IV) was a noble amateur associated with both Giovanni de’ Bardi and with Jacopo Corsi; for the latter, see Carter, “Music and Patronage in Late Sixteenth-Century Florence.” Bardi and Strozzi are the interlocutors in the chief document to emerge from the speculations of Bardi’s Camerata, Vincenzo Galilei’s Dialogo della musica antica, et della moderna (Florence: Giorgio Marescotti, 1581). Strozzi composed a solo song for the tournament celebrating the wedding of Grand Duke Francesco de’ Medici and Bianca Cappello in 1579, “Fuor dell’umido nido” (sung by Giulio Caccini), and also for Rinuccini’s Mascherata degli accecati (1595; see I-Fn II.iv.45, fol. 328r). Later, he was a member of Gagliano’s Accademia degli Elevati, and he also organised the Easter music in Pisa in 1611 (see his letters to Grand Duchess Christine of 14 and 22 March 1610/11 in I-Fas Mediceo del principato 6000); he also seems to have advised the court on other entertainments (e.g., in 1613; see Kirkendale, The Court Musicians in Florence, 222). His other contribution to the 1600 festivities was the music for the pageant sponsored by Riccardo Riccardi in the gardens of his palace in Florence; see Florence, Casa Buonarroti, Archivio Buonarroti 88, fol. 231r. Works by him were published in madrigal books by Luca Bati (1598) and Marco da Gagliano (1604), the latter one of a set of laments on the death of Jacopo Corsi performed at Corsi’s essequie held by the Compagnia dell’Arcangelo Raffaello on 21 February 1603. For correspondence between Strozzi and Caccini, or relating to the latter’s family, see Kirkendale, The Court Musicians in Florence, 132, 150, 154, 163, 313, 341.

66. In the “Ordre de la Representation du Ravissement de Cefale,” Chrétien has Cupid descend on a cloud, with two other clouds one on either side, “ou quatre Amours sont assis”; they “chantent mélodieusement.” It is not clear whether there are two or four in each cloud.

67. According to Chrétien (“Ordre de la Representation du Ravissement de Cefale”), Act IV ends by revealing “quarante huit personnages faire un concert de Musique plus qu’admirable.”

68. For example, as part of the 1600 festivities Bati wrote the music for four choirs performed during the wedding ceremony in the Duomo, and for eight choirs for the baptism of Don Filippo and Don Lorenzo de’ Medici in S. Giovanni Battista, both celebrated on 5 October. The nuptial banquet that same evening had music for two choirs by Stefano Venturi del Nibbio. References to the two composers here were excised for the final version of Buonarroti’s description; see Carter, “Non occorre nominare tanti musici,” 104 n. 37.

69. Chrétien (“Ordre de la Representation du Ravissement de Cefale”) refers to the Muses supporting Poesia “avec tel douceur, de voix [!], et d’instrumens, qu’on n’en oüit jamais de pareille”; they then follow the prologue with “une harmonie celeste.”

70. Buonarroti (Solerti, Gli albori del melodramma, 3:27) noted the many men needed to work the machines, who were “regolati in un certo modo da note e terminazioni di musica, che ad ora ad ora delle macchine abbisognava.”

71. In the prefatory note to the extract from Il rapimento in Le nuove musiche, Caccini promised that he would later publish the music that followed the final chorus included here, comprising “altri conserti, & il ballo”; see above, reference 40.

72. Solerti, Gli albori del melodramma, 3:26: “lodi novelle ricominciaron cantando, et accompagnando il canto contrastante, et alternato per varie voci e diverse arie, tutte mirabili e dolci, con un ballo che, essendo mosso con dignità ragguardevole, s’intrecciava leggiadramente parte per parte, mostrarono estrema gioia, chiamando le rive d’Arno, d’aver accresciuto lor gloria nel vedere, che donna figliuola del serenissimo gran Francesco, che già con tanta giustizia le governò, al comandare a regni maggiori chiamata fosse.”

73. See Tim Carter, “New Light on Monteverdi’s Ballo delle ingrate (Mantua, 1608),” Il saggiatore musicale 6 (1999), 63–90.

74. However, the prologue to Rinuccini’s Narciso (Solerti, Gli albori del melodramma, 2:191–92), delivered by Giulio Caccini, does refer (stanza 6) to the singer’s achievement in representing in music the tales of Aurora, Orpheus, and Apollo (i.e., in an unknown setting of Dafne): “Colme d’alto stupor le scene aurate / da la bell’Alba allor le voci udiro, / allor gli abissi al gran cantor s’apriro / e pianse Apollo su le fronde amate.”

75. Cavalieri to Marcello Accolti, 7 October (but probably 7 November) 1600, given in Palisca, “Musical Asides in the Diplomatic Correspondence of Emilio de’ Cavalieri,” 402. Buonarroti, of course, tells a different story (Solerti, Gli albori del melodramma, 3:27), praising the “squisita e rara musica e varia, ottimamente a’ personaggi e a’ concetti adattata e non simile più forse udita dalla quale non senza proporzione tal’ora fu detta esser composta l’anima umana.”

76. Massimo Ossi attributes the claim to me, not without reason, in “Dalle macchine … la maraviglia,” 35.

77. Emilio de’ Cavalieri, or rather, his proxy Alessandro Guidotti, does recommend short verses for musical setting in the preface to the Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo (Rome: Niccolò Mutii, 1600), but most sources on early opera leave the issue aside. When the libretto does become more theorised in the late 1620s and 1630s, the patterns had already been fixed. Thus Il corago (ca.1630) has an extended discussion of Chiabreran canzonetta forms used on the stage; see Il corago, ed. Fabbri and Pompilio, 70–79.


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