Classic Cantabile | La Vita E-Piano | The Musical Form of Selected Arias in the Libretti of Carlo

The Musical Form of Selected Arias in the Libretti
of Carlo Sigismondo Capece (1710–1714)
Aneta Markuszewska
Institute of Musicology, University of Warsaw
In the spring of 1699, Marie Casimire Sobieska, Queen Dowager of Poland,
arrived in Rome. As European tours were fashionable at the time, foreign
tourists were not unusual in the Eternal City. That particular visitor, however, had arrived for political purposes rather than tourism. Strongly disliked
by the Polish nobility, Marie Casimire was a queen without a crown after she
was widowed by Jan III Sobieski, King of Poland and a Christian military
commander. Faced with opposition in Poland, Marie Casimire felt compelled
to leave the country permanently. Rome was a logical choice – she could be
sure of receiving a ceremonious welcome in the capital of Christendom, and
in due course she settled down in a palazzo offered to her by Prince Don
Livio Odescalchi, a cousin of Pope Innocent XI and, like Marie Casimire’s
deceased husband, a hero of the siege of Vienna. The Queen Dowager began
to patronize the local arts very early on, but the seven drammi per musica
which I discuss here were written and composed in 1710–1714, coinciding
with the last four years of her stay in Rome. The libretti were authored by
Carlo Sigismondo Capece, poet and personal secretary of the Queen Dowager, and the music was written by Domenico Scarlatti.1 Table 3.1 shows the
seven operas composed by Scarlatti for the queen.
A reading of the libretti yields a number of interesting research problems.
I will mention only some of them:
Arias in the libretti of Carlo Sigismondo Capece
• the reworking of original literary models into the dramma per musica format; in this respect, I will just mention the literary sources which inspired
Capece and are mentioned in the argomenti of his libretti (see Table 3.2);
• a shift towards classical themes such as mythology and Greek tragedy; in
this context, I would like to discuss the direct influence on the libretti of
the postulates of the Accademia dell’Arcadia, and the perception of Rome
as the city of the Ancients (as opposed to their contemporary quarrelling
counterpart, the Moderns);
• the language and style of Capece’s poetry; inexplicably, Capece’s subtle
and nuanced poetry attracts little interest from musicologists or literary
critics. This is all the more surprising as Capece’s skills were highly valued
by his contemporaries, theorists, poets and chroniclers alike. It is enough
to mention Pier Jacopo Martelli’s enthusiastic opinion on Capece’s four
subsequent libretti (Tolomeo, Tetide and both Ifigenie) in his ‘Sessione
quinta’ of Della tragedia antica e moderna (1713).2
Table 3.1 Titles of the drammi per musica by Carlo Sigismondo Capece
and Domenico Scarlatti presented at the Palazzo Zuccari
Silvia, dramma pastorale, 1710
Tolomeo et Alessandro, dramma per musica, 1711
Orlando overo la gelosa pazzia, dramma, 1711
Tetide in Sciro, dramma per musica, 1712
Ifigenia in Aulide, dramma per musica, 1713
Ifigenia in Tauride, dramma per musica, 1713
Amor d’un Ombra e gelosia d’un’Aura, dramma per musica, 17143
A number of other noteworthy elements connected with Capece’s libretti
come to mind as interesting areas of research. These go beyond the scope of
this article, but the following issues could be fruitfully studied:
• the new and the old elements in Capece’s libretti, showing us the libretto
in a phase of reform;
• analysis of individual topoi, such as sleep or madness;
Aneta Markuszewska
conventional pastoral drama characterizations;
character types;
the political context of the operas;
Capece’s libretti and other pastoral dramas of the period;
the reception of Capece’s libretti.
Table 3.2 Literary inspirations in the surviving drammi per musica written
for Marie Casimire
- pastoral drama
- Arcadian setting with mythological elements (Silvia traces her line back
to Hercules)
Tolomeo et Alessandro
- elements of Egyptian history taken from Justin (Marcus Junianus
Justinus) Book 39 and recent political events in the Commonwealth of
Poland and Lithuania4
- epic poems, Boiardo’s Orlando innamorato and Ariosto’s Orlando furioso
Tetide in Sciro
- mythology; myth of the transvestite Achilles and his mother Thetis,
the impending Trojan war
- Plutarch, The Parallel Lives. The life of Theseus5
Ifigenia in Aulide
- myth of the descendants of Atreus
- directly inspired by Euripides’ drama in an Italian translation by P. Ortensio Scamacco6
- probably also Ifigenia by Racine, published in Italian translation early
in the 18th century7
Ifigenia in Tauride
- continuation of Ifigenia in Aulide inspired by Euripides’ drama as well
as by another piece entitled Ifigenia in Tauris by Pier Jacopo Martello
Amor d’un Ombra
e gelosia d’un’Aura
- pastoral drama based on two myths: Echo and Narcissus, and Cefalo
and Procri from Ovid’s Metamorphoses
The surviving music in the operas of Domenico Scarlatti written
for Marie Casimire
Today we possess only two complete scores by Domenico Scarlatti which
were written for the private theatre of the Polish Queen Dowager: Tolomeo
Arias in the libretti of Carlo Sigismondo Capece
et Alessandro and Tetide in Sciro.9 The former was discovered in a private
collection in Great Britain,10 and after a long period of oblivion was revived in
a premiere performance on 21 July 2007 under Alan Curtis and his ensemble Complesso Barocco during the Montisi Festival in Tuscany. The second
opera, discovered in Venice by Jesuit and musicologist, Terenzio Zardini,
was presented to the modern public by the Orchestra dell’Angelicum di Milano under the direction of Aladar Janes on 21 October 1957 in Milan. The
last opera composed by Scarlatti, Amor d’un’Ombra, exists in a slightly modified London version as Il Narciso.11 From the two Ifigenie, a total of five arias
survive (see Table 3.3).12
Table 3.3 The surviving music of Domenico Scarlatti’s drammi per musica
for Marie Casimire
Tolomeo et Alessandro
- privately owned, score held in a private collection at Belton
House, Lincolnshire (GB-BEL); this score was used for the
performance under Alan Curtis and was made available to me
by courtesy of Jerzy Żak, Polish lute player who prepared it
for publication for ‘KCM editions’ Warsaw 2002 (unpublished
score; an exclusive commission for the municipality of Oława,
Tetide in Sciro
- Biblioteca Conventuale dei Frati Minori di S. Francesco della
Vigna in Venice (I-Vsf, entry XIII B.1,2,3 entitled Achille in
- Conservatorio di Musica S Majella in Naples – eight individual arias, two tercets and one recitative entitled Arie della
Regina (I-Nc, entry 34.5.14)
- an incomplete score written in a modern hand (probably
a 1960s copy of the Venetian score) is held in the Library of
the Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne (PWM Edition) in Cracow,
Poland (Microfilm 105)14
- 26 numbers from the opera were published in 6 volumes by
PWM Edition (Cracow 1963–66)15
- some arias of unclear provenance are kept in the Library of
the Warsaw Chamber Opera and in the Biblioteka Materiałów
Orkiestrowych Polskiego Wydawnictwa Muzycznego (Library
of the Orchestral Materials, PWM Edition) in Warsaw16
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Ifigenia in Aulide
- two arias of Clytemnestra: ‘Se tu sarai fedel’ (Act I, scene
11) and ‘Tu m’ami! Ah non è vero’ (Act II, scene 6), kept in
Dresden, Sächsische Landesbibliothek- Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek (D-Dl, entry Mus. I-F-30)17
Ifigenia in Tauris
- three arias of Dorisile: ‘Se pensi mai, se speri’ (Act I, scene
2), ‘Se vuoi ch’io t’ami’ (Act III, scene 3) and ‘Consolati e spera’
(Act III, scene 9), kept in D-Dl, entry I-F-30
Amor d’un Ombra
e gelosia d’un’Aura
- survived as Narciso in a full MS score written by J.C. Smith
the Elder who was Händel’s secretary18 ; from a 1720 London performance adapted from Capece’s libretto by Paolo
Rolli, with a musical contribution from Thomas Roseingrave19
(Hamburg, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, D-Hs MA/
17 sinfonias, 7 of which
were overtures to the
drammi per musica presented at the Palazzo
- Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Département de la
Musique, entry Res. 263420
Still, it should be emphasized that the amount of surviving musical sources
from the Palazzo Zuccari is surprisingly good compared to the amount of
extant operatic works produced either for other Roman patrons or for the
Capranica, Rome’s sole active public theatre.
What can a musicologist say about music which is probably lost forever? Should we simply ignore it, or should we perhaps make an attempt
at conjectural reconstruction? Incidentally, this kind of scholarly dilemma
is much more general and besets all kinds of early 18th-century music composed in Rome, be it operas, oratorios, cantatas or serenatas. An entry in
Francesco Valesio’s Diario di Roma dated 4 March 1710 says that the authorities in Rome issued permits in 1710 to organize over 90 private performances, not counting those presented in seminaries and monasteries. ‘Il
governo ne havea date le licenze per più di novanta delle private, senza quelle
de’seminarii e de’monasterii, e de festini se ne sono fatti infiniti.’21 Most of
those works are likewise lost.
Arias in the libretti of Carlo Sigismondo Capece
The conjectural form of the lost music based on an analysis
of the score of Tolomeo et Alessandro
My conclusions on the musical form of selected arias in other operas by
Domenico Scarlatti composed for Marie Casimire are based on the belief
that all the libretti share certain characteristics, written as they were within
a short span of just four years.22 All the libretti comprise three acts. The
number of scenes in each opera ranges from 29 (in Silvia) to 37 (Amor
d’un’Ombra), as shown in Table 3.4.
Table 3.4 Numbers of scenes in Capece’ s libretti for Marie Casimire
Number of scenes
Act I
Act II
Tolomeo et Alessandro
Tetide in Sciro
Ifigenia in Aulide
Ifigenia in Tauride
Amor d’un Ombra e gelosia d’un’Aura
Also, each opera has the same number of characters (six) with the single
exception of Silvia with just five. Other shared characteristics of the libretti
• scene construction (in Capece’s libretti, transitions from one scene to an•
other are not related to changes in the number of actors on stage);
still quite often interrupted liaison des scènes;
similar number of arias per act, ranging from 13 to 16 (see Table 3.5);
predominant use of arias da capo, even in four-line arias;
predominant use of arias with a single affect (also, Capece’s arias are often
based on contrasted attitudes);
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• predominant use of middle scene arias;
• predominant use of six-line arias, however the number of lines can be
quite varied in all libretti, ranging from 3 to 11;
• predominant use of verso tronco, with verso piano used as the second most
frequent occurrence;23
• irregular line length and syllable counts in different lines;
• typical arias, such as the aria cantabile, aria di bravura,24 aria di confronto.25
Table 3.5 Number of arias, broken down into individual libretti by Capece
Number of arias
Act I
Act II
Ifigenia in Aulide
Ifigenia in Tauride
Amor d’un Ombra e gelosia d’un’Aura
Similar affects, similar realisations?
Malcolm Boyd, the most notable of Scarlatti’s biographers, analyzed all of
Scarlatti’s dramatic output, scrutinizing mostly the plots,26 while Reinhard
Strohm, who was interested in the tradition of operatic pairs, pointed out
that some operas presented in the Palazzo Zuccari are linked either by sharing the same hero (as in two Ifigenie) or by a shared subject (magnanimity
in Tolomeo et Alessandro and in Orlando ovvero la gelosa pazzia).27 Until
today, there has existed no detailed analysis of the libretti in terms of their
similarities, dramatic and poetical structures, information drawn from stage
Arias in the libretti of Carlo Sigismondo Capece
directions, realization of Arcadian postulates or topical allusions to contemporary political developments.
The main topic of the libretti is love, which takes place against a pastoral
backdrop. Dramatically speaking, counterparts can be found for many of
the characters in all seven drammi. For instance, we can readily identify the
recurrent figure of a hero who is seeking death as a result of being actually or
allegedly spurned in love: Silvia and Dalisio (Silvia), Alessandro (in Tolomeo
et Alessandro), Zerbino (Orlando), Antiope (Tetide in Sciro), Palide (Ifigenia
in Aulide), Ismeno (Ifigenia in Tauride) and Eco (Amor d’un Ombra e gelosia
d’un’Aura). Such analogies translate into certain similarities in terms of plot
and affect in the respective operas. In terms of music, I assume that despite
some differences, all the operas presented at the court of Marie Casimire
sounded similar. After all, we are dealing with a period when a composer was
expected to furnish pieces written in a familiar style and to follow a certain
recognized convention.
Firstly, Tolomeo et Alessandro was composed for four sopranos and two
contraltos. Probably, the other operas had similar casts of singers. Secondly,
even the very short, four-line arias had been composed as elaborate displays
of skill lasting for several minutes each thanks to the numerous repetitions
and virtuoso coloraturas. As mentioned above, in all the operas we find arias
of similar types. I would like to discuss just some of them starting with the
revenge aria which can be treated as a subcategory of the aria agitata or
infuriata 28 which served to express the rage of the protagonist and his/her
thirst for revenge, e.g. by planning to kill someone, usually the beloved.
The violent emotions were represented by fast tempi, sharp rhythms and
melodies based on melodic leaps. In Tolomeo, the revenge arias are mostly
written for Elisa, spurned by the eponymous hero who is faithful to his wife
Seleuce. Elisa’s first revenge aria appears in Act II, scene 7:
Sù sù mio core,
Che più s’aspetta?
È la vendetta
Non men che amore
Nobil piacer.
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Cada svenato
Quell’empio seno;
Che così almeno
D’un sangue ingrato
Potrò goder.
Sù sù &c.
Scarlatti wrote this using an Allegro tempo and a 3/8 metre. The aria is
in D major, a key described by Mattheson as sharp and obstinate,29 and is
accompanied by first violin in unison with the oboes, the second violin, the
violetta and the basso continuo. The first violin and the oboes emphasize the
heroine’s agitation with an ascending passage in semiquavers. This driving
rhythmic pattern is occasionally taken up by the other instruments. Elisa’s
part mostly comprises leaps, both rising and falling. Also, the aria’s keyword, vendetta or revenge, is emphasised by a long coloratura. In this aria,
Elisa is trying to convince herself that revenge is as noble an emotion as
love. She imagines the satisfaction she would feel on avenging her spurned
feelings but in actual fact she is not yet sure that this is the right course. For
this reason, Capece gives her another revenge aria in Act III, scene 4. In it,
Elisa knows already that all her attempts at seducing Tolomeo and winning
his love have failed. She sings:
Io voglio vendicarmi
D’un oltraggiato amor:
L’ira mi porge l’armi,
E s’egli m’ha tradito
Si guardi anche il mio cor.
Io &c.
It is the singer who begins the aria marked Presto, in 4/4 metre, again in
D major. The instrumentation is also similar, however, this time it is the first
and second violins playing in unison with the oboes. Just before the end of
Section A (bars 20–23, see Figure 3.1), the oboe diverges with a piercing trill
Arias in the libretti of Carlo Sigismondo Capece
while the vocal line consists of a repeated motif involving interval leaps to
depict Elisa’s anger and hurt pride.
Figure 3.1 Elisa’s aria ‘Io voglio vendicarmi’, bars 20–23
Interestingly, in Ifigenia in Aulide Capece also provides for two revenge
arias, here sung by Clytemnestra. Those occur in two places:
Aneta Markuszewska
Act I, scene 10
Act III, scene 9
Per vendicarmi
Havrò la forza, e l’armi
Da un oltraggiato honor.
Se alla vendetta
Con più dolcezza alletta
Un disprezzato amor.
Morire, ò vincere,
Anch’io saprò.
Tigre, che vedasi
rapire i figli,
Di tali artigli
mai non s’armò.
Per &c.
Morire &c.
Presumably, Scarlatti composed these arias in a similar way to those of
Elisa: fast-paced, accompanied by unison strings, probably in D major. Incidentally, Marie Casimire probably commissioned Ifigenia in Aulide as an
artistic reaction to the situation of her only daughter, Teresa Kunegunda.
Teresa Kunegunda was Electress of Bavaria, and at the time she had lived
for several years in exile in Venice, where she was out of touch with both her
children (who remained in Munich) and her husband (who was then involved
in the War of the Spanish succession on the French side). It would seem that
the screaming, anguished Clytemnestra is Marie Casimire, weeping for her
daughter’s distressingly bad fortunes, crushed by the heartlessness of politicians who are identified with the implacable gods:
Sì sì voi perfidi Numi,
Sì sì voi barbare Stelle
Sete quelle, che usurpate
Falso onor di Deità.
Sempre ingiuste all’innocenza,
Sempre cieche alla clemenza,
Sempre sorde alla pietà.
Sì &c.
In this context, it comes as no surprise that Marie Casimire sent this opera
to her daughter in Venice together with the score of Ifigenia in Tauride.30
Arias in the libretti of Carlo Sigismondo Capece
Revenge arias occur also in the other drammi. I believe that Scarlatti must
have composed them in the same conventional manner. These include: Orlando’s aria ‘Al piacer di vendicarmi’ in Orlando (Act II, scene 5), Licomede’s
aria ‘Crudo cielo già prevede’ in Tetide in Sciro (Act III, scene 4), Toante’s aria
‘Voglio che cada esangue’ in Ifigenia in Tauride (Act II, scene 9), Procri’s aria
‘Vanne che vincerai’ in Amor d’un’Ombra (Act II, scene 5).
Another group of arias would include those expressing hope, which can
be seen as a sort of aria cantabile,31 examples of which are found in all the
operas. In Tolomeo, Capece gives one of those to Dorisbe, a princess betrayed
by the King of Cyprus, here disguised as a gardening girl. In Act I, scene 6,
Dorisbe has the following aria:
Alma avvezza a pene, e affanni
Mai non spera ombra di ben.
Se si avanza in lei la speme,
Perchè teme
Novi inganni
La discaccia allor dal sen.
Alma &c.
Scarlatti composed Dorisbe’s aria from Tolomeo et Alessandro in an Alla
breve metre, with an Andante-tempo marking. The key is the profoundly
pensive and poignant E minor.32 Passages of equal crotchets predominate
both in the vocal and in the instrumental parts. The instruments include first
and second unison violins, a viola and basso continuo. This is also one of
the arias preceded by a long introductory ritornello. In Part A (especially bars
46–61), Scarlatti uses coloraturas and numerous repetitions to highlight the
words ‘non spera’ (no hope); in Part B (bars 95–106) the word ‘discaccia’
(eject, drive out, chase out) is similarly highlighted. In the other arias of
hope, such as Daliso’s aria (Silvia) ‘Se credi alla speranza’ (Act II, scene 3)
or Angelica’s (Orlando) ‘Così giusta è questa speme’ (Act III, scene 5), small
differences could have occurred, but most probably they had calm tempi,
Aneta Markuszewska
minor keys, and coloraturas on words such as ‘speranza’, ‘speme’, ‘pena’,
‘dolor’, etc.
The conclusion that arias belonging to the same categories tend to share
a similar musical form seems to be corroborated by two other surviving arias
from Tolomeo et Alessandro and Tetide in Sciro, in which the characters
confront their feelings with the world of nature. The texts are as follows:
Alessandro’s aria
(Tolomeo et Alessandro)
Act II, scene 1
Antiope’s aria
(Tetide in Sciro)
Act II, scene 1
Sempre quì chiara, e tranquila
Scherza l’aura, l’onda brilla,
E lo so ben’io perchè.
Non passeggia questo lido
Più la Madre di Cupido;
Mà d’Elisa il vago piè.
Sento l’aure scherzar tra le fronde,
Miro l’onde
Più limpide, e chiare:
Del mio cor forse ancora non hanno
Imparato à penare.
Sempre &c.
Sento &c.
The instrumentation of both arias involves a pair of flutes playing in parallel thirds, depicting wind playing in the calm, bright waves. In the ritornello,
the flutes are additionally confronted with the strings to augment the colour
effect. Because the emotional states of Alessandro and Antiope which prompt
the two to turn to nature are different (Alessandro realizes that he loves Elisa,
Antiope is lonely in her suffering), Scarlatti composes the two arias in different keys. The former is in F major, ‘capable of expressing the most beautiful
sentiments in the world’,33 the latter in G minor, which is well-suited, according to Mattheson, for expressing moderate sorrows and delights.34 In
Tolomeo, the tempo marking does not appear, however the nature of the
music would suggest a moderate tempo, one not too slow but still able to
emphasize the subtle and lyrical emotions of Alessandro who discovers his
breast the new and unfamiliar feeling of love. This suggestion is borne out by
Arias in the libretti of Carlo Sigismondo Capece
an aria in Tetide in Sciro, which Scarlatti composed as an Allegro moderato.
The two arias of Alessandro and Antiope are similar, primarily in terms of
instrumentation, which would suggest that other arias of this type, such as
Silvia’s aria ‘Ride il Cielo, ride il Prato’ in Silvia (Act I, scene 1), Isabella’s
aria ‘Quando spiegho i tuoi tormenti / Amoroso Rosignolo’ in L’Orlando (Act
II, scene 1), Dorinda’s aria ‘Se mi rivolgo al prato’ in L’Orlando (Act II, scene
2), Angelica’s aria ‘Verdi piante, herbette liete’ in L’Orlando (Act II, scene 9)
were all composed by Scarlatti in a similar form.
This theory is confirmed by arias containing two affects or based on contrasting attitudes, whose musical construction would be reminiscent of the
following aria of Tolomeo (Act I, scene 9):
Tiranni miei pensieri
Furie di questo sen
Ch’è un vivo infermo
datemi di riposo un sol momento;
E poi più che mai fieri
Rendete pure eterno
Il mio tormento.
Tiranni &c.
The text of the aria shares certain elements with Antiope’s aria from Tetide
in Sciro (Act II, scene 2):
Crudi affanni
Tiranni del core,
Deh lasciate, che un momento
Possa l’alma respirar.
Se non hà tregua il dolore,
Con la vita anche il tormento,
Poco più potrà durar.
Crudi &c.
Aneta Markuszewska
We should now turn to the comparison with the aria ‘Tiranni miei pensieri’
from Tolomeo et Alessandro. Its first three lines are a Presto passage. The syllabic musical setting of the words and the forceful driving rhythms illustrate
the tyrannical thoughts plaguing the hero (bars 5–7, see Figure 3.2).
Figure 3.2 Tolomeo’s aria ‘Tiranni miei pensieri’, bars 5–7
In the fourth line of the text, where Tolomeo asks for a respite, Scarlatti
resorts to a cantabile treatment with an Adagio e piano (bars 11–12, see
Figure 3.3).
Also, the instrumentation changes over the course of Part A. The Presto
passage is played by the first and second violins, violas and the b.c. senza
clavicembalo (bars 1–10), and in the Adagio passage the b.c. part is transposed (bars 11–12). Part B of the aria maintains a uniform tempo and character (Presto).
The aria of Antiope in Tetide is set to music in a similar fashion. Part A
begins as an Allegro assai (bars 1–7), and the rhythmical patterns are as
forceful and violent as those in Tolomeo. Similarly, the line in which the
heroine pleads for a moment of peace is composed as an Adagio (bars 7–10,
Arias in the libretti of Carlo Sigismondo Capece
Figure 3.3 Tolomeo’s aria ‘Tiranni miei pensieri’, bars 11–12
see Figure 3.4). The fast tempo comes back for the repetition of the words
‘crudi affanni’ (bar 10).
The musical setting of Part B is different in the two arias. In Tolomeo, this
is a Presto passage, and in Tetide the composer contents himself with an
Adagio, a choice surely motivated by the different nature of the poetry in
Parts B of the respective arias.
The musical setting of those arias is proof of Scarlatti’s sensitivity to words
and emotions expressed in a poetic medium. To highlight selected words
or feelings, the composer does not only use repetition or coloraturas, but
strengthens the effect using instrumentation. This is the case in Elisa’s aria
‘Voglio amore, ò pur vendetta’ from Tolomeo et Alessandro (Act III, scene 2),
where the words ‘voglio amore’ are given to the traverso flute, oboe in unison
with first and second violins, violette and b.c. in a tempo Adagio (see bars
13–16, Figure 3.5).
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When the words ‘ò pur vendetta’ are reached, the flute falls silent, and a
solo passage of the oboe with unison voice is brought to the fore (see bars
17–19, Figure 3.6).
Figure 3.4 Antiope’s aria ‘Crudi affanni’, bars 4–8
Arias in the libretti of Carlo Sigismondo Capece
Figure 3.5 Elisa’s aria ‘Voglio amore, ò pur vendetta’, bars 13–16
That is not the end of the changes – in Part B, Scarlatti also modifies the
b.c. by furnishing a lute solo composed as an Alberti bass. I believe that
Scarlatti relied on instrumentation to illustrate the changes taking place in
Capece’s characters, and to rescue his da capo arias from monotony while
preserving the prescribed convention in arias from the other operas where
the aria is based on a contrast of attitudes. Examples might include Dalisio’s
aria ‘Uccidimi ò perdonami’ in Silvia (Act III, scene 9), Angelica’s aria ‘Se la
mia morte brami’ in Orlando (Act III, scene 10), Pilade’s aria ‘Che sia mite,
ò pur severa’ in Ifigenia in Tauride (Act II, scene 1) and Cefalo’s aria ‘Viva e
goda; e mi condanni’ in Amor d’un’Ombra (Act III, scene 9). This argument is
also borne out by the evidence of the arias from the surviving opera Tolomeo
et Alessandro.
As I have indicated before, my analysis remains a conjecture. However,
I hope that the shared elements of the libretti as shown above, and the
similarities in Scarlatti’s treatment of the same, are evidence that Sobieska’s
artists did not seek to astonish with novelty. Instead, in their pieces they
Aneta Markuszewska
Figure 3.6 Elisa’s aria ‘Voglio amore, ò pur vendetta’, bars 17–19
exploited and polished those elements which were universally admired by
Roman aristocracy. Capece and Scarlatti were better at this than most, as
can be seen from the following passage taken from Foglio di Foligno, one of the
18th-century printed dispatches, dated 24 January 1711: ‘Questa Regina di
Polonia ha dato principio ad un’Opera Pastorale, che fa Rappresentare in
Musica nel suo Teatro Domestico riportando il vanto sopra tutte l’altre che
si recitano negl’altri Teatri.’35
Translated by Piotr Szymczak
1 Domenico Scarlatti’s operas have attracted considerable scholarly attention. The
following is a selective bibliography on the topic: Alberto Cametti, ‘Carlo Sigismondo
Capeci (1652–1728), Alessandro e Domenico Scarlatti e la Regina di Polonia in Roma,’
Musica d’oggi 13 (1931/2), pp. 55–64; Malcolm Boyd, ‘Operas and Oratorios,’ in: by the
same author, Domenico Scarlatti, Master of Music (London: Schirmer Books, 1986), pp.
33–83; also by the same author, ‘The Music Very Good Indeed: Scarlatti’s Tolomeo et
Alessandro recovered,’ in: Studies in Music History Presented to H. C. Robbins Landon on
his Seventieth Birthday, eds. Otto Biba and David Wyn Jones (London: Thames and
Arias in the libretti of Carlo Sigismondo Capece
Hudson, 1996), pp. 9–20; Andrea della Corte, ‘Tetide in Sciro, l’opera di Domenico
Scarlatti ritrovata,’ La Rassegna Musicale 27 (1957/4), pp. 281–9; Sebastiano Arturo
Lucciani, ‘Un’opera inedita di Domenico Scarlatti,’ Rivista Musicale Italiana 48 (1946/4),
pp. 433–45; Manuela Di Martino, ‘Oblio e recupero di un librettista settecentesco: Carlo
Sigismondo Capeci (1652–1728) e il melodrama arcadico,’ Nuova Rivista Musicale
Italiana 29 (1996/1–2), pp. 31–55; Andrew D. McCredie, ‘Domenico Scarlatti and his
opera Narcisso,’ Acta Musicologica 33 (1961/1), pp. 19–29; Roberto Pagano, Alessandro
and Domenico Scarlatti. Two Lives in One, English translation by Frederick Hammond
(Hillsdale: Pendragon Press, 2006).
2 Pier Jacopo Martello, Della tragedia antica e moderna, in: Scritti critici e satirici, ed.
Hannibal S. Noce (Bari: Laterza, 1963), pp. 273–4.
3 The original libretti published in the 18th century are today kept in the following
libraries: Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Biblioteca Universitaria in Bologna,
Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele in Rome.
4 In the libretto’s argument, the name of the historian is mentioned along with a quotation
from Book 39 of his Historiarum Philippicarum T. Pompeii Trogi Libri XLIV, although the
title of the work is not identified (Tolomeo et Alessandro, Rome 1711, p. 3).
5 Plutarch is mentioned in the Argomento of Tetide in Sciro (Rome 1712), p. 3.
6 This information comes directly from Capece’s Argomento to Ifigenia in Aulide: ‘Così ne
termina la sua Tragedia Euripide, portata nel nostro idioma dal P. Ortensio Scamacca, e
da me seguito nel presente Dramma’ [This way Euripides finishes his tragedy, translated
into our language by P. Ortensio Scamacca, which I followed in this piece], Carlo
Sigismondo Capece, Ifigenia in Aulide (Rome 1713), p. 4. Ortensio Scamacca or
Scammacca (1562–1648) was a prolific Jesuit dramatist and poet known for his loose
adaptations of ancient Greek plays, especially of those by Sophocles and Euripides.
Altogether, his adaptations numbered forty-five titles collected into a number of volumes
in the period 1632–1648. See also: Storia letteraria d’Italia, Il Seicento, eds. Carmine
Jannaco and Martino Capucci (Padua: PICCIN, 1986), pp. 444–5 and Michela Sacco
Messineo, Il martire e il tiranno. Ortensio Scammacca e il teatro tragico barocco (Rome:
Bulzoni, 1988).
7 A play identified as Ifigenia by Racine was published in Bologna by Longhi.
Disappointingly, neither the precise date nor the name of the translator are known
today. Cf. Vincenzo de Angelis, ‘Per la fortuna del teatro di Racine in Italia. Notizie e
appunti,’ Studi di Filologia Moderna 6 (1913/1–2), pp. 37–41. The second known
translation of Racine’s Ifigenia comes from 1708 and was published in Modena, probably
by Capponi. Cf. Renata Carloni Valentini, Le traduzioni italiane di Racine (Milan: Vita e
pensiero, 1968), p. 235.
8 Pier Jacopo Martello, ‘Ifigenia in Tauris,’ in: Teatro, ed. Hannibal S. Noce (vol. 2, Rome
and Bari: Laterza, 1981), pp. 423–84.
9 Boyd, ‘The Music Very Good Indeed’, pp. 9–20; Luciani, ‘Un’opera inedita’, pp. 433–45.
The first act of Tolomeo et Alessandro was first studied by Luciani who was in the
possession of the score. The dramma was first analyzed in comparison with the
Handelian adaptation of its libretto by Boyd after its discovery in a private collection in
Aneta Markuszewska
Great Britain. A very succinct and until now the only study of the score of Tetide in Sciro
can be found in an article by della Corte, ‘Tetide in Sciro, l’opera’, pp. 281–9.
10 For the history of the score see Aneta Kamińska, ‘Z repertuaru prywatnego teatru
królowej Marysieńki w rzymskim Palazzo Zuccari: Dramma per musica Tolomeo et
Alessandro Domenica Scalattiego,’ (From the repertory of Queen Maria Kazimiera’s
private theatre in the Roman Palazzo Zuccari: dramma per musica Tolomeo et Alessandro
by Domenico Scarlatti) Muzyka 50 (2005/3), p. 35.
11 McCredie, ‘Domenico Scarlatti and his Opera’ (see note 1).
12 Some inaccuracies exist in the number of arias identified as surviving from those two
operas. Just four are mentioned in ‘Appendix IV: List of Compositions,’ in: Boyd,
Domenico Scarlatti, p. 256. This number Boyd repeats in: Scarlatti Domenico [entry], in:
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd Edition, eds. Stanley Sadie and
John Tyrrell (vol. 22, London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 2001), p. 407. Based on the
libretti of the two Ifigenie I have ascertained that there are actually five surviving pieces;
see also note 17.
13 KCM editions prepares private materials which are used by the period instruments
ensemble Kleine Cammer-Musique under the direction of Jerzy Żak. About the music of
Tolomeo see also: Aneta Kamińska, Dramma per musica “Tolomeo et Alessandro”
Domenica Scarlattiego (The dramma per musica “Tolomeo et Alessandro” by Domenico
Scarlatti) (master’s thesis written under the supervision of Alina Żórawska-Witkowska,
Institute of Musicology, Warsaw University, Warsaw 2003); see also by the same author,
‘Z repertuaru prywatnego teatru królowej Marysieńki’, pp. 29–56.
14 The title page contains a note in Italian: ‘Revisione e realizzazione di P. Terenzio Zardini’.
15 Domenico Scarlatti, Tetyda na Skyros (Tetide in Sciro) (= Florilegium Musicae Antiquae
5–10), ed. Tadeusz Ochlewski (Cracow: PWM Edition, 1963–66).
16 This collection served for the performance of the opera by the Warsaw Chamber
Orchestra conducted by Liliana Stawarz, recorded in performance in 2001 (Pro Musica
Camerata 030).
17 The library’s conventional index-card catalogue (which is also available online) states
that the arias come from Ifigenia in Tauris. However, when analyzed and compared to the
libretti, it becomes clear that only three do indeed come from that opera, while the other
two belong to Ifigenia in Aulide. This brings the number of Scarlatti arias surviving from
those two operas to a total of five.
18 Boyd, ‘Operas and Oratorios’, pp. 32–83, in particular p. 64.
19 About the music of Narciso cf. McCredie, ‘Domenico Scarlatti and his Opera’ (cf. note 11)
and Boyd, ‘Operas and Oratorios’, pp. 60–7 (cf. note 1).
20 Cf. Boyd, Scarlatti Domenico [entry], p. 408.
21 Francesco Valesio, Diario di Roma, ed. Gaetanina Scano (Milan: Longanesi, 1977–78),
p. 392.
22 My belief is based on a methodology presented by Rainer Theobald in his article ‘Frühe
Libretti als Ereignis-Dokumente. Bemerkungen zu einer Sammlung von Textbüchern des
barocken Musiktheaters,’ Maske und Kothurn. Internationale Beiträge zur
Theaterwissenschaft 48 (2002/1–4), p. 179–201, and on the following statement by
Arias in the libretti of Carlo Sigismondo Capece
Malcolm Boyd: ‘The writing of vocal music, [...] was essentially a considered activity,
subject to the demands of the text and to the rules and traditions of ‘good composition’,
in: ‘Domenico Scartlatti’s cantate da camera and their connections with Rome,’ in:
Händel e gli Scarlatti a Roma: Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi, Roma 1985, eds.
Nino Pirrotta and Agostino Ziino (Florence: Olschki, 1987), p. 259.
23 In verso tronco, the stress is on the last syllable, imparting a sharp sound to the syllable
by shortening it. In verso piano, the stress is on the penultimate syllable. Cf. Tim Carter,
Versification [entry], in: The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (vol. 4,
London: Macmillan, 1992), p. 964–6; Paolo Fabbri, ‘Metrical and Formal Organization,’
in: Opera in Theory and Practice, Image and Myth (Storia dell’opera italiana, vol. 6, eds.
Lorenzo Bianconi and Giorgio Pestelli), English translation by Kenneth Chalmers (part II
vol. 6, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003), pp. 165–6 and 172–3.
24 This terminology is taken from John Brown, Letters upon the Poetry and Music of the
Italian Opera Addressed to a Friend (Edinburgh: Bell & Bradfute, 1789), pp. 36–119.
25 Alberto Basso, ‘L’Aria,’ in: L’età di Bach e di Händel (Turin: Edizioni di Torino, 1991), pp.
112–3. Basso proposes more subcategories of arias which are absent from Brown’s
typology but he provides no references to literary sources from the 18th century.
26 Cf. Boyd, ‘Operas and Oratorios’, pp. 32–67.
27 Reinhard Strohm, ‘Dramatic dualities: Metastasio and the tradition of the opera pair,’
Early Music 26 (1998/4), pp. 554–5.
28 Brown, Letters upon the Poetry, p. 80.
29 ‘... ist von Natur etwas scharff und eigensinnig;’ Johann Mattheson, Das neu-eröffnete
Orchestre, Oder Universelle und gründliche Anleitung, wie ein Galant Homme einen
vollkommenen Begriff von der Hoheit und Würde der edlen Music erlangen, seinen Gout
danach formiren, die Terminos technicos verstehen und geschicklich von dieser
vortrefflichen Wissenschafft raisonniren möge (Hamburg: Benjamin Schiller’s Witwe,
1713), p. 242.
30 Cf. Berthold Over, ‘”...sotto l’Ombra della Regina di Pennati”. Antonio Vivaldi, Kurfürstin
Therese Kunigunde von Bayern und andere Wittelsbacher,’ in: Italian Opera in Central
Europe 1614–1780, vol. 3: Opera Subjects and European Relationships, eds. Norbert
Dubowy, Corinna Herr and Alina Żórawska-Witkowska (Berlin: BWV Berliner
Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2007), pp. 251–97.
31 Brown, Letters upon the Poetry, pp. 52–3.
32 ‘... kann man schwerlich was lustiges beygeleget werden, man mache es auch wie man
wolle, weil es sehr pensif, tieffdenkend, betrübt und traurig zu machen pfleget, doch so,
dass man sich noch dabey zu trösten hoffet.’ Mattheson, Das neu-eröffnete Orchestre,
p. 239.
33 ‘... ist capable die schönsten Sentiments von der Welt zu exprimiren.’ ibid., p. 241.
34 ‘... mit kurtzen beydes zu mässigen klagen und temperirter Frölichkeit bequem und
überaus flexible ist.’ ibid., p. 237.
35 ‘The Queen of Poland gave rise to pastoral opera, which was presented with music in her
home theatre, and was superior to all the others presented in other theatres.’ I- Rc, entry
Per est 42.
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