Volume 9, no. 1:
Rediscovering Il rapimento di Cefalo
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 Peris Euridice, also performed then. For Il rapimento, we have only the text, a description (by Michelangelo Buonarroti il giovane), and musical fragments (in Caccinis 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.
1.1 Recent celebrations of the quatercentenary of opera have tended to focus on Jacopo Peris 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 Chiabreras 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 (Ariadnes famous lament). In the case of Il rapimento, only a small portion of the music survivesincluded in Caccinis 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 Peris 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 historya process begun very early onraises 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.
2.1 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 periodthe glorification of the Mediciprompted the paying of little heed to historical niceties or to clear artistic vision. One might say the same of operas forebearsRenaissance tragedies, comedies, tragicomedies, pastorals, and their intermediwhere 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 Peris Euridiceits 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 Peris 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 1602while Emilio de Cavalieris 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 Periand also the poet Ottavio Rinucciniwere 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 Cavalieris musical pastorals of the early 1590sIl satiro and La disperatione di Fileno of 1590, and the Giuoco della cieca of 1595almost entirely from Alessandro Guidottis prefatory remarks to Cavalieris Rappresentatione. Similarly, the problematic chronology of Peris 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 Peris statements in the preface to his Euridice concerning the classicising (at least notionally) intent of the new genrealthough Peri is more circumspect on the matter than some scholars have assumedand also the supposed origins of recitative within, and its fidelity to, some representation of heightened speech.
2.4 Peris preface to Euridice is a carefully constructed model of historical rectitude (Cavalieris 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: Peris account of his having forced singers dependent on him to sing his own rather than Peris 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 Caccinis own dedication to his Euridice that focus chiefly on song, not sung speech, and on manners of performance so as to weaken Caccinis 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 Gaglianos 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 Peris 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 delletà nostra che non è punto inferiore, anzi è migliore di quella delletà 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 Boninis remarks remained in manuscript, while della Valles 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 works 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 Cavalieris 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:
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
3.1 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 Rinuccinis 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 Auroras 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. 22431)
The gods, however, are embarrassed by this display of Amores 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 opera16likewise its origins in the Metamorphosesand 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 Rinuccinis 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 Correggios Fabula di Cefalo performed in Ferrara on 21 January 1486/7 for that of Lucrezia dEste 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. 1924):
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. 54152): 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 bridegroomhe was maneuvered into the wedding by severe financial pressures from the Mediciand 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 Henrys representatives would have missed the point, for all that they, too, might have found it objectionable.
4.1 In Act V of Il rapimento (ll. 53436), Amore claims that Auroras 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 Correggios Fabula di Cefalo of 1487. Correggios 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 Tinghis claim that the performance lasted five hours soon became enshrined in Florentine chronicles. But Il rapimento cannot have been so long: Chiabreras libretto is 658 lines in length, longer than Rinuccinis Dafne (445 lines) but shorter than Euridice (790 lines), and roughly the same as Alessandro Striggios libretto for Monteverdis 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 Bardis 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 Buonarrotis 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 Chiabreras 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 IIII 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 scenesthree 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 IVV)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 Berecintias 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 Guarinis Il pastor fido staged in Mantua on 22 November 1598 in honor of Margherita of Austriaparticularly the appearance of a whale from the sea, Berecintia from under the earth, and Famareflects 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 Grazzinis 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 entracte 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 intermediwhy 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 Medicis uncle).37 Tinghi says that Don Giovanni composed the (non-existent) intermedi, while Guarini attributes to him the miracoli of the work, and Francesco dAbramo 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 architecturewhich would manifest themselves in a similarly busybody-ish way in the ill-fortuned design and construction of the Cappella dei Principi in S. Lorenzomay 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 dAbramos 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. Cavalieris 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 Buonarrotis 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.
5.1 Buonarrotis 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).
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 Auroras 89 lines (14 per cent of the total) exceed Dafnes in the Rinuccini-Peri Dafne (22 lines; 5 per cent), Euridices in Euridice (27 lines; 3 per cent) or in the Striggio-Monteverdi Orfeo (12 lines; some 2 per cent), or, proportionally, Ariannas 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 Rinuccinis 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 Caccinis 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 Peris 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 Caccinis 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 womens roles in the opera, from Notte onwards.44
5.4 Buonarrotis final comment cannot be correct if he means beginning with Notte and all the womens 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) Caccinis 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 lAzzurina, 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 Caccinis 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 Vitalis Aretusa (Rome, 1620; he also painted the scenery). We know from the extracts of Il rapimento in Caccinis 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 Cefalos 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 Monteverdis Lincoronazione di Poppea, a bass). If Pompeo Caccini played Cefalo, that would then cover all the tenor roles in the operawith one of Caccinis 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 Titones 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.
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.
6.1 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 stageplot, verse, and music then followed.51 It is not surprising, therefore, that most scholars have followed Buonarrotis cue, regarding Il rapimento simply as an excuse for scenic display. Similarly, Chiabrera himself seems not to have held the work in high regardhe does not mention it by name in his autobiographyand 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 musicaparticularly anacreontic canzonettas for Cacciniand 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 Berecintias complaint into a diegetic song (Amore subsequently asks her what she is singing about)for all that its content is not at all song-likereveals 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 IIII survive incomplete (just one stanza each),55 while the Act IV Coro degli dei (In questo dalmi 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: Titones lament in terza rima (four tercets and a concluding quatrain);56 Berecintias 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 Titones 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, Cavalieris Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo and Peris Euridice. 57 Cavalieris 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. Rinuccinis 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 Chiabreras 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 Rinuccinis), 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 Fabbris preface to Chiabreras Le maniere de versi toscani (1599)Caccini repaid the compliment in the preface to his Le nuove musicheand 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 Caccinis 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 Monteverdis Orfeo) of 10 October 1610 concerning a favoletta sent to Mantua would seem to suggest:
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 Rinuccinis 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 decorumthat style is both determined and limited by genrewhereas 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 bellanno 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 freelyhere 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 Titones 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'-flatc', 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 Berecintias Nella magion stellante e luminosa opening Act IV, and for the Epilogue; certainly this is what the poetic structures would suggest. Also, Buonarrotis account of Nottes 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 Rinuccinis 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 IIV (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 polyphonicVenturi del Nibbio and Bati, at least, are not known for writing monodieswith 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 perchei non torni / Salla stagion primierarespectively for one half of the chorus, then the other, and then tuttiin 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)
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 Cavalieris O che nuovo miracolo; Caccini provided another (also lost) example for the final intermedio accompanying Buonarrotis 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
7.1 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:
Cavalieris view that the music was disproportionate to the theatre would certainly seem appropriate for Caccinis 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 Caccinis recitative, too, seems to have been felt inappropriate, both because of its lack of interestlike the chanting of the Passion reported Cavalieri, while Cardinal Aldobrandini noted that it too easily became boringand, presumably, because it was too intimate for the theatre. However, Peris 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 Peris 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 Chiabreras views on music on the stage. There is an intriguing paradox: Chiabrera, long blamed for the introduction of canzonetta forms and stylesand hence musical ariasinto 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 operawhich are relatively silent on the issueas 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
* Tim Carter
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 Mozarts Le nozze di Figaro (1987), Jacopo
Peri (15611633): His Life and Works (1989), Music in Late
Renaissance and Early Baroque Italy (1992), and Monteverdis
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
The text is edited in Angelo Solerti, Gli albori del melodramma,
3 vols. (Milan: Sandron, 1904; reprint, Bologna: Forni, 1976), 3:2958.
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 : 27387, 35685, 41470,
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 Marescottis device on p. ). 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
Chiabreras 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 Chiabreras 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 Solertis
text is one line short (657 rather than 658; but I continue to refer to
lines by Solertis numbering) and omits other important details. Il rapimento receives some useful discussion in various contributions
(cited below) to La scelta della misura. Gabriello Chiabrera: laltro
fuoco del barocco italiano. Atti del Convegno di Studi su Gabriello Chiabrera
nel 350o anniversario della morte, Savona, 36 novembre
1988, ed. Fulvio Bianchi and Paolo Russo (Genoa: Edizioni Costa e
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), 40354; the description
of Il rapimento is also included in Solerti, Gli albori del
melodramma, 3:928. In the 1600 edition, Il rapimento occupies sixteen (pp. 2440) out of some 40 pages, whereas the Rinuccini-Peri Euridice has just one (pp. 2223). 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]), 89104. Buonarroti had obtained an imprimatur dated
29 September 1600i.e., the description was originally to have appeared
before the festivitiesbut the dedication to Maria de Medici
is dated 20 November.
Le ravissement de Cefale. Representé à Florence aux Nopces
Royalles. Traduit dItalien 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,
50317. 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 quun Chrétien
vous presente, non sur un si magnifique Theatre que celuy de Florence
(ou ils receurent plus dhonneur, de gloire, & dharmonie
entreux quen leur Ciel, pour honorer le Mariage dont vous
estes lheureux 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, 51516 n. 31),
which outlines the action and gives some brief account of the staging.
This seems derived from Buonarrotis 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.
See Cesare Molinari, Le nozze degli dèi: un saggio sul grande
spettacolo italiano nel Seicento, Biblioteca Teatrale: Studi 3 (Rome:
Mario Bulzoni, 1968), 4349; Sara Mamone, Firenze e Parigi: due
capitali dello spettacolo per una regina (Milan: Amilcare Pizzi, 1987),
8198; Massimo Ossi, Dalle macchine … la maraviglia:
Bernardo Buontalentis Il rapimento di Cefalo at the Medici
Theater in 1600, in Opera in Context, ed. Mark A. Radice
(Portland, Oreg.: Amadeus Press, 1998), 1535. The following discussion
owes some debt to both Mamone and Ossi, although we differ in our readings
of the staging and content.
See Tim Carter, Jacopo Peri (15611633): 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.
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 Corsis Dafne: Some New Discoveries
and Observations, Journal of the American Musicological Society 18 (1965): 17096.
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): 50735. 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 lAccademia della Crusca; atti del Convegno Internazionale
di Studi, Firenze–Vernio, 2526 settembre 1998, ed. Piero Gargiulo,
Alessandro Magini, and Stéphane Toussaint, Cahiers di «Accademia»
(Paris: Société Marsile Ficin, 2000), 13746.
In Lyra barberina, ed. Antonio Francesco Gori, 2 vols. (Florence:
Typis caesareis, 1763), 2:24964. 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
12. The comments come from a postscript probably to Cavalieris 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), 389407, at 403404,
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), 20628, at 218, citing the Diario del viaggio fatto dal
Cardinal Piero Aldobrandini nellandare legato a Firenze per la celebrazione
del sponsalizio della Regina di Francia, et in Francia per la pace: lapparato scenico e glintermedi 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 Bentivoglios 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), 13740. I have further relied on Kirkendales
collection of documents for other comments discussed below.
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 wifes
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 poets being influenced
by the French, to see the roots of his version of the Cephalus tale in
Ronsards 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 Caraccis fresco of Cephalus
and Aurora on the ceiling of the Galleria Farnese in Rome, completed in
1600. As an aside, it seems likely that Poussins Cephalus and Aurora (162730; London, National Gallery) draws specifically on Il
rapimento, perhaps via Chrétiens 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
Febos chariot in Act II of Il rapimento.
Nino Pirrotta, Music and Theatre from Poliziano to Monteverdi (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1982), 1011.
19. Niccolò da Correggio, Opere: Cefalo, Psiche, Silva, rime,
ed. Antonia Tissoni Benvenuti (Bari: Laterza, 1969), 5–45. Correggios
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 dellAnguillara
in ottava rima con le Annotationi di M. Gioseppe Horologgi, e gli argomenti
& postille di M. Francesco Turchi (Venice: Francesco de Franceschini,
21. For example, in the prose moralization of Ovids Metamorphoses in Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Reg. 1686, compiled in 146667
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], 22122), 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): 37993.
Solerti, Gli albori del melodramma, 3:24.
23. Compare the discussion in Anne MacNeil, Weeping at the Waters Edge, Early Music 27 (1999): 40717.
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), 2348. 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.
Pirrotta, Music and Theatre from Poliziano to Monteverdi, 4546.
Correggios play was often printed, at least in the first half of
the sixteenth century. Rinuccinis contribution to the 1600 festivities
also seems to have harked back to a fifteenth-century model, Angelo Polizianos La fabula dOrfeo (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.
Le nozze degli dèi, 43. For example, the play at the centre
of the 1589 festivities, Girolamo Bargaglis La pellegrina, had
originally been written in 1564.
27. Other diarists (e.g., Francesco dAbramo) say that it began a unora
di notte, i.e., one hour after sunset.
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 Molinaris
and Mamones comments (which I broadly follow here), the issue has
still generated confusion; see, for example, Elvira Garbero Zorzi, Limmagine
della festa medicea: la tradizione di un mito, in Claudio Monteverdi:
studi e prospettive; atti del convegno, Mantova, 2124 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), 43149. 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 Medicis 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 duna pastorale
cantata del Signor Chiabrera, condita con miracoli, che non si
sono mai più uditi, opera dellIllustrissimo Signor
Don Giovanni de Medici.
30. For Aldobrandini, see above, reference 13. Cardinal Bentivoglio referred alleccellenza
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.
Pace the remark in Pirrotta, Music and Theatre from Poliziano
to Monteverdi, 238 n. 6: Caccini was in charge of all the solo partsthat
is, practically the basic playplus 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).
According to Mamone (Firenze e Parigi, 97 n. 1), work began on
13 July 1600.
34. See Zorzi, Limmagine delle festa medicea, passim. Zorzi also
links to the staging of Il rapimento Buontalenti sketches which
scholars have previously associated with earlier intermedi.
For the intermedi to Il pastor fido, see Alessandro dAncona, Origini del teatro italiano, 2 vols., 2d rev. ed. (Turin: Loescher,
1891), 2:57072, relaying the account in Giovanni Battista Grillo, Breve trattato di quanto successe alla maesta della regina D. Margarita
dAustria 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
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 soldieras
a generale of Emperor Rudolph IIs artillery, he distinguished himself
against the Turks in 1594 (see Avvisi di Giaverino venuti di Ratisbona
dalli 22 dAgosto 1594 [Florence: Alle Scalee di Badia, 1594])and,
if to a lesser extent, as a patron (he was the dedicatee of Giovanni Battista
Leonis 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 (15611602), I Tatti Studies: Essays
in the Renaissance 1 (1985; also in idem, Music, Patronage and
Printing in Late Renaissance Florence): 57104, passim.
He was also later involved as a patron of commedia dellarte 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
luniversal 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 lesempio 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 Giovannis intervention in the descrizione is noted in Buonarrotis letter to Francesco Paulsanti of 14 November
1600 (Florence, Casa Buonarroti, Archivio Buonarroti 51, no. 1419).
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): 395405. 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.
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), 31921. Monteverdi also complains about the number
of tenors needed for the shepherds and the librettos 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.
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 nellazione 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.
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 Peris or Caccinis
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,
43251, at 445. Monteverdis 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 Monteverdis First Opera, Recercare 11 (1999):
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.
For Margherita, see Kirkendale, The Court Musicians in Florence,
16162. 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):
8199. 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.
For him, see Kirkendale, The Court Musicians in Florence, 16263;
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 Gonzagas virility.
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, 29699). 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,
2325 maggio 1997), ed. Piero Gargiulo et al. (Florence:
Edizioni Firenze, 2001), 13946.
Solerti, Gli albori del melodramma, 3:2728: 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 sapprese: dalla nobile e graziosa favola
la moralità e l costumo divino e lumano; 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 talora fu detta esser composta lanima
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,
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).
See Il rapimento, Act IV, ll. 37780: Di che diletti il
cor così cantando / antica Berecintia torreggiante? / Rammenti
forse i celebrati ardori / de trapassati amori? Berecintia replies (ll.
38589): 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 / laura gentil delle soavi voci) and to the Coro degli dei in Act V (ll. 52122: 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; Striggios Orfeo has several obvious
55. The 1600 edition of the libretto has a note at the end of each final chorus
in Acts IIII, Manca il rimanente del coro; the repeated comment
is missing in the 1605 edition, and in subsequent ones variously based
upon it (including Solertis), 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
Solertis 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 linealso present in the setting included
in Le nuove musicheis 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, 34252.
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,
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), 584600, at 58687:
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 lorecchie delluditore 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. Chiabreras 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,
42966, at 44142: 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 lesperienza ha da farne lume. Chiabreras 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.
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): 2772, at 6364.
62. Non havendo io potuto per molti impedimenti far istampare comera 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 loccasione di questaltre mie musiche aggiugnere à
quelle lultimo 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, comhavea 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 nellaltre 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 lartifittio
[sic] del contrappunto in esse (oltre à molti errori in
che si può incorrere) usare solo la buona maniera, e laffetto,
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. QuestAria cantò solo con i proprij passaggi come sta Melchior
Palontrotti Musico Eccellente della Cappella di Nostro Signore; Questaria cantò solo con altri passaggi secondo il suo stile
Iacopo Peri, Musico Eccellente stipendiato da queste Altezze Serenissime; Questaria cantò solo parte con i propri passaggi, e parte à
suo gusto il famoso Francesco Rasi Nobile Aretino, molto grato Servitore
allAltezza 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.
Piero di Matteo di Lorenzo Strozzi (born 30 July 1552; see I-Fas Libro detà 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 Bardis Camerata, Vincenzo Galileis 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
dellumido nido (sung by Giulio Caccini), and also for Rinuccinis Mascherata degli accecati (1595; see I-Fn II.iv.45, fol.
328r). Later, he was a member of Gaglianos 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 Corsis essequie held by the Compagnia dellArcangelo Raffaello on 21 February 1603.
For correspondence between Strozzi and Caccini, or relating to the latters
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 quadmirable.
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 Buonarrotis 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 dinstrumens, quon nen oüit jamais de pareille; they then follow
the prologue with une harmonie celeste.
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
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.
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, sintrecciava leggiadramente
parte per parte, mostrarono estrema gioia, chiamando le rive dArno,
daver 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 Monteverdis Ballo delle ingrate (Mantua, 1608), Il saggiatore musicale 6 (1999), 6390.
74. However, the prologue to Rinuccinis Narciso (Solerti, Gli
albori del melodramma, 2:19192), delivered by Giulio Caccini,
does refer (stanza 6) to the singers achievement in representing
in music the tales of Aurora, Orpheus, and Apollo (i.e., in an unknown
setting of Dafne): Colme dalto stupor le scene aurate
/ da la bellAlba allor le voci udiro, / allor gli abissi al gran
cantor sapriro / 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 talora fu detta esser composta
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
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