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Seventeenth-Century Opera and the Sound of the Commedia Dell'Arte$
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Emily Wilbourne

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226401577

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226401607.001.0001

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The Serious Elements of Early Comic Opera

The Serious Elements of Early Comic Opera

Chapter:
(p.92) Chapter Three The Serious Elements of Early Comic Opera
Source:
Seventeenth-Century Opera and the Sound of the Commedia Dell'Arte
Author(s):

Emily Wilbourne

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226401607.003.0004

This chapter considers two early comic operas: the libretto to Giovan Battista Andreini’s La Ferinda (1622) and Virgilio Mazzocchi and Marco Marazzoli’s L’Egisto ovvero Chi soffre speri (1637/9), which sets a libretto by Giulio Rospigliosi. Parallels between the serious characters of the two works demonstrate the way in which an overemphasis on the comic elements of the commedia tradition has concealed the roots of opera’s other roles. A shared repertoire of poetic and structural techniques reveals the extent to which commedia performances prefigured the sonic norms of operatic music. Most importantly, the clear delineation of the poetic text into recitative and aria—evident in both of these works—elucidates the importance of the commedia dell’arte theatre for the verisimilitude of dramatic song. The parallels between these two works demonstrate an astonishing reliance on commedia dell’arte practice in the development of operatic representational norms.

Keywords:   commedia dell’arte, opera, sound, Giovan Battista Andreini, La Ferinda, L’Egisto ovvero Chi soffre speri, Virgilio Mazzocchi, Marco Marazzoli, recitative, aria

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