17th Century Venetian Opera

Topics: Opera, Venice, Opera house Pages: 8 (2781 words) Published: December 9, 2010
|[Type the company name] | |Seventeenth Century Venetian Opera | |Cultural and Economic Factors | | | |Lauren A Rader | |12/3/2010 |

Lauren Rader
Music History I
November 19, 2010
17th Century Opera in Venice
Between 1637 and 1678, in nine different theaters, Venetian audiences saw more than 150 operas. The creation of public opera houses sparked the interest of the people of the time because of social and philosophical changes that were happening in the Republican state of Venice. Opera was not only interesting to the elite. It had now made its way to a public audience. The primary audience was the crowd of Venetians and tourists that came for the carnival season in Venice. Opera succeeded as a public art form for many reasons: because of its exquisite musicality, it was highly successful and it became a way to produce revenue. Ellen Rosand says that three conditions existed for opera to be a permanent establishment in the Venetian culture: there was regular demand during the carnival season, dependable financial backing, and a broad predictable audience. An important group involved with the financial backing and librettos written for the opera houses were the Accademia degli Incogniti, translating to “The Academy of Unknowns”. This was a secret society of noblemen, founded by Giovanni Francesco Loredano. One reason opera was such a success during this time was due to this libertine group. Even though their ideas were bold and they said heretical things, without their financial backing, their librettos may have never made it to the opera houses if they hadn’t been in Venice at that time. Also, women were expected to exhibit certain social and moral standards during this time, and this was often the theme of many librettos written by the Accademia degli Incogniti from 1637-1678. The librettos were themed around virtues where a protagonist exemplified an act of goodness in her role. Another important factor about Venetian opera was that before the San Cassiano opera house, operas had been written for private courts of the wealthy aristocrats only. Public opera houses marked a new form of social event, entertainment, and source of revenue for musicians, writers/poets, and wealthy benefactors. Venice was a republican state and the government was considerably more open to new ideas and conventions than the rest of Italy, cities like Florence and Rome. Venice was a state with its own special position in the world and history that integrated freedom and stability. The great myth of Venice was that it was an undefeated state. The people claimed that the city was founded on the day of Annunciation on March 25, 421. Since that time no one had defeated Venice, and by the 17th Century it had lasted longer than ancient Rome. Scholars believe that this was because of its republican constitution allowing the noblemen to share the power and divide it among themselves. The wealthy were about 5% of the population, but the common people were pleased with this way of government and lived happily without too much complaint.[1] Venice’s government was more relaxed and open, and that had much to do with what was allowed and not allowed in the public opera houses of the time. Another fact that is important to...

Cited: Heller, Wendy Beth. Chastity, heroism, and allure: Women in opera of seventeenth-century Venice. Diss. Brandeis University, 1995. 66-126.
Muir, Edward. “Why Venice? Venetian Society and the Success of Early Opera.” Journal of Interdisciplinary History.36.3 (2006): 331-353
Purciello, Maria Anne
Romano, Dennis. “Commentary: Why Opera? The Politics of an Emerging Genre.” Journal of Interdisciplinary History. 36.3 (2006): 401-409
Rosand, Ellen
“theatre design.” The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Credo Reference. Web. 17 November 2010.
Thorburn, Hugh A. (Sandy) Robert.  Seventeenth-century Venetian opera: The collaborative context of a commercial, synaesthesic art form.  Diss. University of Toronto (Canada), 2006. Dissertations & Theses: 134-182.
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