1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cavalli, Francesco

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CAVALLI, FRANCESCO (1599?–1676), Italian musical composer, was born at Crema in 1599 or 1600. His real name was Pier Francesco Caletti-Bruni, but he is better known by that of Cavalli, the name of his patron, a Venetian nobleman. He became a singer at St Mark’s in Venice in 1617, second organist in 1639, first organist in 1665, and in 1668 maestro di cappella. He is, however, chiefly important for his operas. He began to write for the stage in 1639 (Le Nozze di Teti e di Peleo), and soon established so great a reputation that he was summoned to Paris in 1660 to produce an opera (Serse) at the Louvre in honour of the marriage of Louis XIV. He visited Paris again in 1662, bringing out his Ercole Amante. His death occurred in Venice on the 14th of January 1676. Twenty-seven operas of Cavalli are still extant, most of them being preserved in the library of St Mark at Venice. Monteverde had found opera a musico-literary experiment, and left it a magnificent dramatic spectacle. Cavalli succeeded in making opera a popular entertainment. He reduced Monteverde’s extravagant orchestra to more practical limits, introduced melodious arias into his music and popular types into his libretti. His operas have all the characteristic exaggerations and absurdities of the 17th century, but they have also a remarkably strong sense of dramatic effect as well as a great musical facility, and a grotesque humour which was characteristic of Italian grand opera down to the death of Alessandro Scarlatti.