Francesco Cavalli

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Francesco Cavalli

Francesco Cavalli (born Pietro Francesco Caletti-Bruni 14 February 1602 14 January 1676) was an Italian composer of the early Baroque period. He took the name "Cavalli" from his patron, Venetian nobleman Federico Cavalli.



Cavalli was born at Crema, Lombardy. He became a singer (soprano) at St Mark's Basilica in Venice in 1616, where he had the opportunity to work under the tutorship of Claudio Monteverdi. He became second organist in 1639, first organist in 1665, and in 1668 maestro di cappella . He is chiefly remembered for his operas. He began to write for the stage in 1639 ( Le nozze di Teti e di Peleo ) soon after the first public opera house opened in Venice, the Teatro San Cassiano. He established so great a reputation that he was summoned to Paris from 1660 (he revived his opera Xerse ) until 1662, producing his Ercole amante . He died in Venice at the age of 73.

Crema, Lombardy Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Crema is a city and comune in the province of Cremona, in the region of Lombardy in northern Italy. It is built along the river Serio at 43 kilometres (27 mi) from Cremona. It is also the seat of the Catholic Bishop of Crema, who gave the title of city to Crema.

St Marks Basilica Church in Venice, Italy

The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark, commonly known as St Mark's Basilica, is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, northern Italy. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. It lies at the eastern end of the Piazza San Marco, adjacent and connected to the Doge's Palace. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has been the city's cathedral only since 1807, when it became the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, formerly at San Pietro di Castello.

Claudio Monteverdi 16th and 17th-century Italian composer

Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi was an Italian composer, string player and choirmaster. A composer of both secular and sacred music, and a pioneer in the development of opera, he is considered a crucial transitional figure between the Renaissance and the Baroque periods of music history.

Music and influence

Cavalli was the most influential composer in the rising genre of public opera in mid-17th-century Venice. Unlike Monteverdi's early operas, scored for the extravagant court orchestra of Mantua, Cavalli's operas make use of a small orchestra of strings and basso continuo to meet the limitations of public opera houses.

Mantua Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy, and capital of the province of the same name.

Opera house theatre building used for opera performances

An opera house is a theatre building used for opera performances that consists of a stage, an orchestra pit, audience seating, and backstage facilities for costumes and set building.

Cavalli introduced melodious arias into his music and popular types into his libretti. His operas have 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. Cavalli's operas provide the only example of a continuous musical development of a single composer in a single genre from the early to the late 17th century in Venice only a few operas by others (e.g., Monteverdi and Antonio Cesti) survive. The development is particularly interesting to scholars because opera was still quite a new medium when Cavalli began working, and had matured into a popular public spectacle by the end of his career.

Libretto text used for an extended musical work

A libretto is the text used in, or intended for, an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata or musical. The term libretto is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as the Mass, requiem and sacred cantata, or the story line of a ballet.

Alessandro Scarlatti Italian composer

Pietro Alessandro Gaspare Scarlatti was an Italian Baroque composer, known especially for his operas and chamber cantatas. He is considered the founder of the Neapolitan school of opera. He was the father of two other composers, Domenico Scarlatti and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti.

Pietro Marc'Antonio Cesti, known today primarily as an Italian composer of the Baroque era, was also a singer (tenor), and organist. He was "the most celebrated Italian musician of his generation".

Cavalli wrote forty-one operas, twenty-seven of which are extant, being preserved in the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (Library of St Mark) in Venice. Copies of some of the operas also exist in other locations. In addition, two last operas (Coriolano and Masenzio), which are clearly attributed to him, are lost, as well as twelve other operas that have been attributed to him, though the music is lost and attribution impossible to prove.

Biblioteca Marciana library in Venice, Italy

The Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana is a library and Renaissance building in Venice, northern Italy. It is one of the earliest surviving public libraries and depositories for manuscript in Italy and holds one of the greatest collections of classical texts in the world. It is named after St. Mark, the patron saint of the city.

In addition to operas, Cavalli wrote settings of the Magnificat in the grand Venetian polychoral style, settings of the Marian antiphons, other sacred music in a more conservative manner – notably a Requiem Mass in eight parts (SSAATTBB), probably intended for his own funeral – and some instrumental music. [1]

Magnificat hymn of Mary in the Christian tradition

The Magnificat is a canticle, also known as the Song of Mary, the Canticle of Mary and, in the Byzantine tradition, the Ode of the Theotokos. It is traditionally incorporated into the liturgical services of the Catholic Church and of the Eastern Orthodox churches. It is one of the eight most ancient Christian hymns and perhaps the earliest Marian hymn. Its name comes from the incipit of the Latin version of the canticle's text.

Venetian polychoral style

The Venetian polychoral style was a type of music of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras which involved spatially separate choirs singing in alternation. It represented a major stylistic shift from the prevailing polyphonic writing of the middle Renaissance, and was one of the major stylistic developments which led directly to the formation of what is now known as the Baroque style. A commonly encountered term for the separated choirs is cori spezzati—literally, separated choirs.

Antiphon short sentence sung or recited before or after a psalm or canticle; call and response, especially in Christian music and ritual

An antiphon is a short chant in Christian ritual, sung as a refrain. The texts of antiphons are the Psalms. Their form was favored by St Ambrose and they feature prominently in Ambrosian chant, but they are used widely in Gregorian chant as well. They may be used during Mass, for the Introit, the Offertory or the Communion. They may also be used in the Liturgy of the Hours, typically for Lauds or Vespers.

Performance history

TitleLibrettoPremière datePlace, theatreNotes
Orazio Persiani24 January 1639 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
Giovanni Francesco Busenello 1640Venice, Teatro San Cassiano 
Giovanni Francesco Busenello1641Venice, Teatro San Cassiano 
Giovanni Battista Fusconi1 January 1642Venice, Teatro San Moisè
Orazio Persiani30 January 1642Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo lost
Giovanni Faustini 1642Venice, Teatro San Cassiano 
Giovanni Faustiniautumn 1643Venice, Teatro San Cassiano 
Scipione Herrico5 January 1644Venice, Teatro Novissimo lost
Giovanni Faustini1644Venice, Teatro San Cassiano 
Giulio Strozzi 1645Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paololost
Giovanni Faustini1645Venice, Teatro San Cassiano 
Giovanni Faustini1645Venice, Teatro San Cassianolost
Giovanni Francesco Busenello1646Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paololost
Pietro Paolo Bissari1648Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo or Teatro San Cassianolost
Giacinto Andrea Cicognini 5 January 1649Venice, Teatro San Cassiano 
Giovanni Faustini1649Venice, Teatro San Moiselost
Nicolò Minato 23 February 1650Venice, Teatro San Cassiano 
Pietro Paolo Bissari1650Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paololost
Bortolo Castoreo20 January 1651Venice, Teatro Sant 'Apollinare lost
Giovanni Faustini9 February 1651Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare 
Giovanni Faustini1651Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinarealso known as Le magie amorose
Giovanni Faustini28 November 1651Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare 
Giovanni Faustini17 January 1652Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare 
Giacinto Andrea Cicognini and Giulio Strozzi21 December 1652 Naples, Nuovo Teatro del Palazzo Realealso known as Il Delio
Francesco MelosioJune 1653 Milan, Teatro Real 
Nicolò Minato12 January 1654Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo 
Giulio Cesare Sorrentino30 January 1654Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paoloin collaboration with Andrea Mattioli
Aurelio Aureli30 December 1655Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare 
Giovanni Francesco Busenello18 January 1656Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo 
Nicolò Minato10 January 1657Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo 
Giovanni Andrea Moniglia12 June 1658 Florence, Teatro degli Immobili 
Nicolò Minato12 January 1659Venice, Teatro San Cassianolost
Giovanni Faustini and Nicolò Minato26 December 1659Venice, Teatro San Cassianoalso known as Elena
Domenico Gisberti1660Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinarelost
Francesco Buti7 February 1662 Paris, at the Salles des Machines in the Tuileries Palace Ballet music by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Nicolò Minato9 February 1664Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo 
Giovanni Faustini and Nicolò Minato26 January 1665Venice, Teatro San Samuele  
Nicolò Minato20 February 1666Venice, Teatro San Salvatore  
Aurelio Aurelicomposed 1667, premiered 2004Venice, Teatro San SalvatoreIt was never staged and was replaced by another opera of the same name by Giovanni Antonio Boretti. [2]
Cristoforo Ivanovich 27 May 1669 Piacenza, Teatro Ducalelost
Giacomo Francesco Bussanicomposed 1673unperformed and lost

Modern performances

Cavalli's music was revived in the twentieth century. The Glyndebourne production of La Calisto is an example. [3] More recently, Hipermestra was performed at Glyndebourne in 2017. [4] The discography is extensive and Cavalli has featured in BBC Radio 3's Composer of the Week series. [1]

See also

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  1. 1 2 "Composer of the Week" . Retrieved August 5, 2012.
  2. Ellen Rosand (ed), Readying Cavalli's Operas for the Stage: Manuscript, Edition, Production, Farnham/Burlington, Ashgate, 2013, p. 64, ISBN   9781409412182.
  3. Ross, Alex, "Unsung: Rediscovering the Operas of Francesco Cavalli." The New Yorker , May 25, 2009, pp. 84–85.
  4. "Hipermestra review – Cavalli comes in from the cold". Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2017.

Further reading