Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/514

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serious hindrance, Art flourished more brilliantly than ever; but, before proceeding with the history of its triumphs in Venice, it is necessary that we should glance, for a moment, at its position in some other parts of Italy.

Pietro della Valle, writing in 1640, tells us that, like Tragedy at Athens under the guidance of Thespis, the Lyric Drama made its first appearance in Rome upon a Cart. During the Carnival of 1606, this ambulant Theatre was driven from street to street, surmounted by a moveable Stage, whereon five masked performers enacted a little Play, set to Music for them by Paolo Quagliati. The idea seems to have originated with Della Valle himself. He it was who arranged the performances, and induced Quagliati to write the Music: and so great was the success of the experiment, that from four o'clock in the afternoon until after midnight, the little band of Strollers found themselves surrounded by a never-failing concourse of admiring spectators. Rough indeed must these primitive performances have been when compared with the entertainments presented to the Florentines by Peri and Caccini; yet it is strange, that, notwithstanding their favourable reception, we hear of no attempts either to repeat them or to encourage the introduction of anything better, until the year 1632, when a Musical Drama called 'Il Ritorno di Angelica nell' Indie,' by a Composer whose name is not recorded, appears to have been privately performed in the palace of one of the Roman nobles. [App. p.734 "The drama called 'Il Ritorno di Angelica,' etc., is ascribed, in Lady Morgan's 'Life and Times of Salvator Rosa,' to a composer named Tignali. This name is considered by Mr. S. S. Stratton to be a corruption of Tenaglia, whose 'Clearco' was produced at Rome in 1661."] Representations of this kind were afterwards not uncommon; but many years elapsed before any really great Opera was produced in the Eternal City.

The Bolognese claim to have encouraged the Opera in very early times, and even to have invented it; but they are far from being able to prove their case. A Chronological Catalogue, published at Bologna in 1737, gives a list of all the Musical Dramas performed in the city from the year 1600 down to that in which it was printed. The names of the Poets who furnished the Libretti are here very carefully recorded, from the earliest times; but no native Composer is mentioned until the year 1610, when Girolamo Giacobbi brought forward his 'Andromeda,' which produced so great an impression that it was again revived in 1628. The works of the Florentine and Venetian Composers seem however to have met with a more favourable reception at Bologna than the products of native genius. Peri's 'Euridice' was performed there in 1601, and again in 1616, on which occasion it attracted a vast and most enthusiastic audience; and for very many years afterwards the Bolognese were quite contented with the importation of successful Operas from Venice.

The early records of the Neapolitan Drama are lamentably imperfect. We hear of no Opera produced in Naples, until 1646, when mention is made of a Pasticcio called 'Amor non a legge,' by several different Composers, none of whose names have transpired. It seems however more reasonable to believe that our information is at fault, than that a School which afterwards became so deservedly famous, should have been first called into existence at so late a period. Still, we cannot fail to observe, that, notwithstanding the enthusiastic cultivation of Dramatic Music, the centres of its development were, at this period, very far from numerous. The more luxuriantly it flourished in any highly privileged city, the less we hear of it elsewhere.

The Third Period in the history of the Lyric Drama was preluded by the bold transfer of its patronage from the Prince to the people. In the year 1637 the famous Theorbo player, Benedetto Ferrari, and Francesco Manelli da Tivoli, the Composer, opened at their own private risk the first public Opera House in Venice, under the name of the Teatro di San Cassiano. For this new Theatre, Ferrari wrote the words, and Manelli the Music, of an Opera called 'Andromeda,' which was so well received, that in the following year the same two authors brought out a second work, 'La Maga fulminata'; while in 1639 the text of Giulio Strozzi's 'La Delia, ossia la Sposa del Sole' was set to Music, either by Manelli or Paolo Sacrati—it is difficult to say which, and Ferrari produced 'L'Armida' to poetry of his own. This was an eventful season. Before its close, Monteverde once more appeared before the public with a new Opera called 'L'Adone,' which ran continuously till the Carnival of 1640; and his pupil, Pièr-Francesco Caletti-Bruni, nicknamed by the Venetians 'Il Checco Câ-Cavalli,'[1] made his first appearance as a Dramatic Composer with 'Le Nozze di Peleo e di Tetide'—a work which proved him to be not only the faithful disciple of an eminent Maestro, but a true genius, with originality enough to enable him to carry on that Maestro's work in a spirit free from all trace of servile imitation. His natural taste suggested the cultivation of a more flowing style of Melody than that in which his contemporaries were wont to indulge; and he was not so bigoted a disciple of the Renaissance as to think it necessary to sacrifice that taste to the insane Hellenic prejudice which would have banished Rhythmic Melody from the Opera for no better reason than that it was unknown in the time of Pericles. Vincenzo Galilei and his Florentine associates condemned such Melody as puerile and degraded to the last degree. Monteverde never ventured to introduce it, save in his Ritornelli. But Cavalli—as he is now generally called—not only employed it constantly, for the sake of relieving the monotony of continuous Recitative, but even foreshadowed the form of the regular Aria, by that return to the first part which Alessandro Scarlatti afterwards indicated by the term Da Capo. Cavalli's genius was as prolific as it was original. The author of 'Le Glorie della Poesia e della Musica' (Venice, 1730) gives the names of 34 Operas which he produced, for Venice alone, between the years 1637 and 1665. Fétis mentions 39, but Quadrio assures us that he wrote, altogether, more than 40; Burney laments that after diligent search he could

  1. That is, 'Little Frank, of the House of Cavalli.'