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Inventing the Business of Opera : The Impresario and His World In Seventeeth Cetury Venice - Beth L. Glixon

Inventing the Business of Opera

The Impresario and His World In Seventeeth Cetury Venice

Hardcover Published: 21st November 2005
ISBN: 9780195154160
Number Of Pages: 424

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In mid-seventeenth-century Venice, opera first emerged from courts and private drawing rooms to become a form of public entertainment. Early commercial operas were elaborate spectacles, featuring ornate costumes and set design along with dancing and music. As ambitious works of theater, these productions required not only significant financial backing, but also strong managers to oversee several months of rehearsals and performances. These impresarios were responsible for every facet of production from contracting the cast to balancing the books at season's end. The systems they created still survive, in part, today.
Inventing the Business of Opera explores public opera in its infancy, from 1637 to 1677, when theater owners and impresarios established Venice as the operatic capital of Europe. Drawing on extensive new documentation, the book studies all of the components necessary to opera production, from the financial backing and the issue of patronage to the commissioning and creation of the libretto and the score; the recruitment and employment of singers, dancers, and instrumentalists; the production of the scenery and the costumes; and the nature of the audience. The authors examine the challenges faced by four separate Venetian theaters during the seventeenth century, and focus particularly on the progress of Marco Faustini, the impresario most well known today. Faustini made his way from one of Venice's smallest theaters to one of the largest, and his advancement provides a personal view of an impresario and his partners, who ranged from Venetian nobles to artisans. Throughout the book, Venice emerges as a city that prized novelty over economy, with new repertory, scenery, costumes, and expensive singers the rule rather than the exception.
Through close examination of an extraordinary cache of documents--including personal papers, account books, and correspondence--Beth and Jonathan Glixon provide a comprehensive view of opera production in mid seventeenth- century Venice. For the first time in a study of Venetian opera, an emphasis is placed on the physical production-- the scenery, costumes, and stage machinery--that tied these opera productions to the social and economic life of the city. This original and meticulously researched study will be of strong interest to all students of opera and its history.

"This book should be required reading for students of opera in any period, and will remain the definitive study for the foreseeable future."--Patricia Howard, Musical Times "Inventing the Business of Opera is highly readable and its scholarship is without any significant errors. It has filled in a great many details, making this period in the history of music much more alive. It is an excellent book aimed at the expert on seventeenth century Venetian opera.--Sandy Thorburn, otes "This endlessly fascinating and illuminating study takes the lid off Venetian opera as it existed in the middle decades of the 17th century. It would be hard to imagine a more comprehensive survey of a complex phenomenon or a more lucid display of erudition. Anyone interested in the early history of opera as a public spectacle or in Venetian culture and institutions will treasure this book."--Michael Talbot, FBA, Emeritus Professor of Music, University of Liverpool "The remarkable team of Glixon and Glixon has produced a book that is sure to become a classic, not only in the specific field of seventeenth-century Venetian opera, but also in the much larger field of opera in general. Through meticulous and wide-ranging sleuthing in numerous archives, they provide definitive answers to some of the most important questions raised by Venetian public opera; namely, who did what, who paid for it, how much did it cost? Not only have they filled in and corrected hundreds of significant details about the composers, librettists, singers, impresarios, agents, scene and costume designers, but they have succeeded in recreating the texture of their lives, educations, families, and personal histories. Readers come to know the main characters and experience the kinds of day-to-day struggles that went into preparing a production for the stage."--Ellen Rosand, Professor of Music, Yale University, and author of Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice "Starting from the account books of impresario Marco Faustini, Beth and Jonathan Glixon reveal the world of opera-as-an-enterprise. They hunt down its financial backers, track the evolution of its contracts with theaters, boxholders, singers, and composers, and uncover the backstage connections between the Venetian opera houses in their first glorious yet fragile age. Their meticulous case studies show that Faustini's efforts focused on what makes opera a different and a difficult kind of theater and why he persisted for thirteen seasons. This is the most comprehensive study of opera production in the Baroque subscription theater, based on an intimate knowledge of Venetian society and a marvelous cache of new material."-- Margaret Murata, Professor of Music, Claire Trevor School of the Arts, University of California, Irvine "On the basis of a documentary investigation of rare scope and subtlety, Inventing the Business of Opera relates a history that continues to amaze us: how the spirit of economic enterprise, libertine philosophy, and the erotic fascination of theatrical singing ever could combine to produce, if not opera itself, the social custom of attending it. It is fortunate for us, as for so many women and men who for more than three centuries found in opera an effective 'school of sentiments,' that this actually happened--in Venice, in the mid 17th-century."--Lorenzo Bianconi, University of Bologna "This book should be required reading for students of opera in any period, and will remain the definitive study for the foreseeable future."--Patricia Howard, Musical Times "Inventing the Business of Opera is highly readable and its scholarship is without any significant errors. It has filled in a great many details, making this period in the history of music much more alive. It is an excellent book aimed at the expert on seventeenth century Venetian opera.--Sandy Thorburn, otes "This endlessly fascinating and illuminating study takes the lid off Venetian opera as it existed in the middle decades of the 17th century. It would be hard to imagine a more comprehensive survey of a complex phenomenon or a more lucid display of erudition. Anyone interested in the early history of opera as a public spectacle or in Venetian culture and institutions will treasure this book."--Michael Talbot, FBA, Emeritus Professor of Music, University of Liverpool "The remarkable team of Glixon and Glixon has produced a book that is sure to become a classic, not only in the specific field of seventeenth-century Venetian opera, but also in the much larger field of opera in general. Through meticulous and wide-ranging sleuthing in numerous archives, they provide definitive answers to some of the most important questions raised by Venetian public opera; namely, who did what, who paid for it, how much did it cost? Not only have they filled in and corrected hundreds of significant details about the composers, librettists, singers, impresarios, agents, scene and costume designers, but they have succeeded in recreating the texture of their lives, educations, families, and personal histories. Readers come to know the main characters and experience the kinds of day-to-day struggles that went into preparing a production for the stage."--Ellen Rosand, Professor of Music, Yale University, and author of Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice "Starting from the account books of impresario Marco Faustini, Beth and Jonathan Glixon reveal the world of opera-as-an-enterprise. They hunt down its financial backers, track the evolution of its contracts with theaters, boxholders, singers, and composers, and uncover the backstage connections between the Venetian opera houses in their first glorious yet fragile age. Their meticulous case studies show that Faustini's efforts focused on what makes opera a different and a difficult kind of theater and why he persisted for thirteen seasons. This is the most comprehensive study of opera production in the Baroque subscription theater, based on an intimate knowledge of Venetian society and a marvelous cache of new material."-- Margaret Murata, Professor of Music, Claire Trevor School of the Arts, University of California, Irvine "On the basis of a documentary investigation of rare scope and subtlety, Inventing the Business of Opera relates a history that continues to amaze us: how the spirit of economic enterprise, libertine philosophy, and the erotic fascination of theatrical singing ever could combine to produce, if not opera itself, the social custom of attending it. It is fortunate for us, as for so many women and men who for more than three centuries found in opera an effective 'school of sentiments,' that this actually happened--in Venice, in the mid 17th-century."--Lorenzo Bianconi, University of Bologna

A note on the Venetian monetary system
The business of opera
Introduction to the business of opera in seventeenth-century Venice : people and financesp. 3
The boxes : a major source of incomep. 17
Marco Faustini and his companiesp. 34
Case studies : companies and opera production at four Venetian theatersp. 66
The musical production
The librettop. 109
The composition and the production of the opera scorep. 140
Singersp. 173
Dancers, extras, and the orchestrap. 215
The physical production
Scenery and machinesp. 227
Costumesp. 277
Consumers and patrons
The audience and the question of patronagep. 295
A brief chronicle of opera productions in Venice from 1651 to 1668p. 325
A note on the Venetian social class system and Venetian geographyp. 338
Documentsp. 340
The impresario's year : a calendar of Marco Faustini's impresarial activities for 1651/52 and 1654/55p. 345
Production expenses for three seasons in the 1650sp. 349
Venetian opera orchestras of the 1650s and 1660sp. 350
Paid attendance for six seasons in the 1650s and 1660sp. 353
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195154160
ISBN-10: 0195154169
Series: AMS Studies in Music
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 424
Published: 21st November 2005
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.13 x 16.51  x 3.18
Weight (kg): 0.74