Inventing the Business of Opera

Inventing the Business of Opera : The Impresario and His World in Seventeenth Century Venice

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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 of various populations of Venice, 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; and, finally, the issue of patronage. Throughout the book, the problems faced by impresarios come into new focus. The authors chronicle the progress of Marco Faustini, the impresario most well known today, who made his way from one of Venice's smallest theaters to one of the largest. His companies provide the most 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. The authors examine the challenges faced by four separate Venetian theaters during the seventeenth century: San Cassiano, the first opera theater, the Novissimo, the small Sant'Aponal, and San Luca, established in 1660. Only two of them would survive past the 1650s. 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 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.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 154.94 x 228.6 x 25.4mm | 589.67g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 16 black and white halftones, 7 line illustrations
  • 0195342976
  • 9780195342970
  • 882,190

Review quote

a trove of information about the intricacy of financial arrangements as well as about the whims of audiences in seventeenth -century Venice. * Herbert Lindenberger,The Opera Quarterly * the many insights afforded to specialists are well balanced by a comprehensive and accessible narrative that can act as an introduction to the business of opera in early modern Europe. * Vassilis Vavoulis, Music and Letters *show more

About Beth Glixon

Beth L. Glixon received her Ph.D. from Rutgers University in 1985 and has been an instructor in musicology at the University of Kentucky since 1995. Jonathan Glixon received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1979, and has taught at the University of Washington and, since 1983, at the University of Kentucky, where he is currently Professor of Musicology.show more

Table of contents

PART 1: THE BUSINESS OF OPERA; PART 2: THE MUSICAL PRODUCTION; PART 3: THE PHYSICAL PRODUCTION; PART 4: CONSUMERS AND PATRONS; APPENDICES; GLOSSARYshow more

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