In mid seventeenth-century Venice, opera first emerged from courts and private drawing rooms to become a form of public entertainment. Early commercial operas were elaborate spectacles, featuring ornate costumes and set design along with dancing and music. As ambitious works of theater, these productions required not only significant financial backing, but also strong managers to oversee several months of rehearsals and performances. These impresarios were responsible for every facet of production from contracting the cast to balancing the books at season's end. The systems they created still survive, in part, today.
Inventing the Business of Opera explores public opera in its infancy, from 1637 to 1677, when theater owners and impresarios established Venice as the operatic capital of Europe. Drawing on extensive new documentation, the book studies all of the components necessary to opera production, from the financial backing of various populations of Venice, to the commissioning and creation of the libretto and the score; the recruitment and employment of singers, dancers, and instrumentalists; the production of the scenery and the costumes, and, the nature of the audience; and, finally, the issue of patronage. Throughout the book, the problems faced by impresarios come into new focus. The authors chronicle the progress of Marco Faustini, the impresario most well known today, who made his way from one of Venice's smallest theaters to one of the largest. His companies provide the most personal view of an impresario and his partners, who ranged from Venetian nobles to artisans. Throughout the book, Venice emerges as a city that prized novelty over economy, with new repertory, scenery, costumes, and expensive singers the rule rather than the exception. The authors examine the challenges faced by four separate Venetian theaters during the seventeenth century: San Cassiano, the first opera theater, the Novissimo, the small Sant'Aponal, and San Luca, established in 1660. Only two of them would survive past the 1650s.
Through close examination of an extraordinary cache of documentsincluding personal papers, account books, and correspondence Beth and Jonathan Glixon provide a comprehensive view of opera production in mid-seventeenth century Venice. For the first time in a study of opera, an emphasis is placed on the physical production the scenery, costumes, and stage machinery that tied these opera productions to the social and economic life of the city. This original and meticulously researched study will be of strong interest to all students of opera and its history.
About the Author
Beth L. Glixon received her Ph.D. from Rutgers University in 1985 and has been an instructor in musicology at the University of Kentucky since 1995. She has published articles in Music & Letters, Journal of Musicology, Early Music History, Early Music, and Musical Quarterly, and has presented papers at the annual meetings of the American Musicological Society and the Society of Seventeenth Century Music, of which she was one of the founding officers.
Jonathan Glixon received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1979, and has taught at the University of Washington and, since 1983, at the University of Kentucky, where he is currently Professor of Musicology. He has published his work in such journals as Journal of the American Musicological SocietyR, Journal of Musicology, and Music and Letters, and in English, Italian, and Australian publications. His book, Honoring God and the City: Music at the Venetian Confraternities, 1260-1807, was published by Oxford in 2003.
Table of Contents
Part 1: The Business of Opera
1. Introduction to the Business of Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice: People and Finances
2. The Boxes: A Major Source of Income
3. Marco Faustini and His Companies
4. Case Studies: Companies and Opera Production at Four Venetian Theaters
Part 2: The Musical Production
5. The Libretto
6. The Composition and the Production of the Opera Score
8. Dancers, Extras, and the Orchestra
Part 3: The Physical Production
9. Scenery and Machines
Part 4: Consumers and Patrons
11. The Audience and the Question of Patronage
1. A Brief Chronicle of Opera Productions in Venice from 1651 to 1668
2. A Note on the Venetian Social Class System and Venetian Geography
3. A Note on the Venetian Monetary System
5. The Impresario's Year: A Calendar of Marco Faustini's Impresarial Activities for 1651/52 and 1654/55
n 7. Paid Attendance for Six Seasons in the 1650s and 1660s