Francesco Cavalli (born Pietro Francesco Caletti-Bruni; 14 February 1602 – 14 January 1676) was a Venetian composer, organist and singer of the early Baroque period. He succeeded his teacher Claudio Monteverdi as the dominant and leading opera composer of the mid 17th-century. A central figure of Venetian musical life, Cavalli wrote more than forty operas, almost all of which premiered in the city's theaters. His best known works include Ormindo (1644), Giasone (1649) and La Calisto (1651).[1]

Imaginary portrait of Francesco Cavalli

Life edit

Cavalli was born at Crema, then an inland province of the Venetian Republic. He became a singer (boy 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 took the name "Cavalli" from his patron, Venetian nobleman Federico Cavalli. Though he wrote prolifically for the church, 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 (when he revived his opera Xerse) until 1662, producing his Ercole amante. He died in Venice at the age of 73.

Music and influence edit

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.

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 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.

More than forty-two operas have been attributed to Cavalli. Manuscript scores of twenty-six are extant, preserved in the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (Library of St Mark) in Venice. Scores of some of the operas also exist in other locations. In addition, the music of his two last operas (Coriolano and Masenzio), which are clearly attributed to him, is lost. Another twelve or so for which the music is lost have also been attributed to him, but these attributions have either been disproved or remain uncertain. Cristoforo Ivanovich, who published the first chronicle of Venetian opera, Minerva al tavolino (Venice, 1681), attributed most of the anonymous works from the first 15 years of public performances in Venice to Cavalli, and many of these attributions were repeated by subsequent authors. The American musicologist Thomas Walker, writing in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, considered seven of Ivanovich's attributions and another two by other authors as doubtful.[2]

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.[3]

Sacred works edit

  • Musiche sacre concernenti messa, e salmi concertati con istromenti, imni, antifone et sonate (Venecia, 1656).
  • Messa, 8vv, 2 vn, vc, otros instrumentos ad libitum ed. R. Leppard (Londres, 1966).
  • Alma redemptoris mater, 2 S, A, T, B, ed. B. Stäblein, Musica divina, iv (Regensburg, 1950).
  • Ave maris stella, A, T, B.
  • Ave regina caelorum, T, B, ed. B. Stäblein, Musica divina, i (Regensburg, 1950).
  • Beatus vir, A, T, B, 2 vn, vc.
  • Confitebor tibi Domine, 8vv, 2 vn, vc
  • Credidi, 2 S, A, T, B, 2 vn, vc
  • Deus tuorum militum, A, T, B, 2 vn, vc
  • Dixit Dominus, 8vv, 2 vn, vc, other insts ad lib
  • Domine probasti, S, A, B, 2 vn, vc
  • Exultet orbis, 4vv, 2 vn, vc
  • In convertendo, 2 S, A, T, B
  • Iste confessor, 2 S, 2 vn, vc
  • Jesu corona virginum, A, T, B, 2 vn, vc
  • Laetatus sum, A, T, B, 2 vn, 3 va, ed. R. Leppard (London, 1969)
  • Lauda Jerusalem, 8vv, 2 vn, vc, other insts ad lib
  • Laudate Dominum, 8vv, 2 vn, vc, ed. R. Leppard (London, 1969)
  • Laudate pueri, 2 S, A, T, B, 2 vn, vc
  • Magnificat, 8vv, 2 vn, vc, other insts ad lib, ed. R. Leppard (London, 1969)
  • Nisi Dominus, 4vv, 2 vn, vc
  • Regina caeli, A, T, B, ed. B. Stäblein, Musica divina, ii (Regensburg, 1950)
  • Salve regina, A, 2 T, B, ed. B. Stäblein, Musica divina, iii (Regensburg, 1950)
  • Canzoni [sonate] a 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12; a 6 y a 12 ed. R. Nielsen (Bologna, 1955)
  • Vesperi, 8vv, bc (Venice, 1675)
  • Vespero della B.V. Maria: Dixit Dominus; Laudate pueri; Laetatus sum; Nisi Dominus; Lauda Jerusalem; Magnificat. ed. G. Piccioli (Milan, 1960); ed. F. Bussi (Milan, 1995)
  • Vespero delle domeniche: Dixit Dominus; Confitebor; Beatus vir; Laudate pueri; In exitu Israel; Laudate Dominum; Credidi; In convertendo; Domine probasti; Beati omnes; De profundis; Memento; Confitebor angelorum; Magnificat, ed. G. Piccioli (Milan, 1960); all ed. F. Bussi (Milan, 1995)
  • Vespero delle cinque Laudate ad uso della cappella di S Marco: Laudate pueri; Laudate Dominum laudate eum; Lauda anima mea; Laudate Dominum quoniam bonus; Lauda Jerusalem; Magnificat, ed. G. Piccioli (Milan, 1960); all ed. F. Bussi (Milan, 1995)
  • Cantate Domino, 1v, bc, 16252; ed. F. Vatielli, Antiche cantate spirituali (Turin, 1922)
  • O quam suavis, 1v, bc, 16453
  • Magnificat, 6vv, 2 vn, bc, 16505; ed. F. Bussi (Milan, 1988)
  • In virtute tua, 3vv, bc, 16561
  • O bone Jesu, 2vv, bc, 16561
  • Plaudite, cantate, 3vv, bc, 16561
  • Missa pro defunctis [Requiem], 8vv, bc, D-Bsb, Dlb; ed. F. Bussi (Milan, 1978)

Operas edit

Attributions to Cavalli considered doubtful by American musicologist Thomas Walker are indicated in the notes.[2][4]

Title Libretto Première date Place, theatre Notes
Le nozze di Teti e di Peleo Orazio Persiani 24 January 1639 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
Gli amori d'Apollo e di Dafne Giovanni Francesco Busenello 1640 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
La Didone Giovanni Francesco Busenello 1641 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
L'amore innamorato Giovanni Battista Fusconi 1 January 1642 Venice, Teatro San Moisè
Narciso et Ecco immortalati Orazio Persiani 30 January 1642 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo music lost, doubtful
La virtù dei strali d'Amore Giovanni Faustini 1642 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
L'Egisto Giovanni Faustini autumn 1643 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
La Deidamia Scipione Herrico 5 January 1644 Venice, Teatro Novissimo music lost, doubtful
L'Ormindo Giovanni Faustini 1644 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
Il Romolo e 'l Remo Giulio Strozzi 1645 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo music lost, doubtful
La Doriclea Giovanni Faustini 1645 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
Il Titone Giovanni Faustini 1645 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano music lost
La prosperità infelice di Giulio Cesare dittatore Giovanni Francesco Busenello 1646 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo music lost, doubtful
La Torilda Pietro Paolo Bissari 1648 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo or Teatro San Cassiano music lost, doubtful
Il Giasone Giacinto Andrea Cicognini 5 January 1649 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
L'Euripo Giovanni Faustini 1649 Venice, Teatro San Moise music lost
L'Orimonte Nicolò Minato 23 February 1650 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
La Bradamante Pietro Paolo Bissari 1650 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo music lost, doubtful
L'Armidoro Bortolo Castoreo 20 January 1651 Venice, Teatro Sant 'Apollinare music lost, doubtful
L'Oristeo Giovanni Faustini 9 February 1651 Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare  
La Rosinda Giovanni Faustini 1651 Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare also known as Le magie amorose
La Calisto Giovanni Faustini 28 November 1651 Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare  
L'Eritrea Giovanni Faustini 17 January 1652 Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare  
La Veremonda, l'amazzone di Aragona Giacinto Andrea Cicognini and Giulio Strozzi 21 December 1652 Naples, Nuovo Teatro del Palazzo Reale also known as Il Delio
L'Helena rapita da Theseo[5] Giacomo Badoaro? 1653 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo music lost, doubtful
L'Orione Francesco Melosio June 1653 Milan, Teatro Real  
Il Ciro Giulio Cesare Sorrentino 30 January 1654 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo in collaboration with Francesco Provenzale
Il Xerse Nicolò Minato 12 January 1655 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo  
L'Erismena Aurelio Aureli 30 December 1655 Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare  
Statira principessa di Persia Giovanni Francesco Busenello 18 January 1656 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo  
L'Artemisia Nicolò Minato 10 January 1657 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo  
L'Hipermestra Giovanni Andrea Moniglia 12 June 1658 Florence, Teatro degli Immobili  
L'Antioco Nicolò Minato 12 January 1659 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano music lost
Elena Giovanni Faustini and Nicolò Minato 26 December 1659 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano also known as Il rapimento d'Helena
La pazzia in trono, ossia il Caligola delirante Domenico Gisberti 1660 Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare music lost, doubtful
Ercole amante Francesco Buti 7 February 1662 Paris, at the Salle des Machines in the Tuileries Palace Ballet music by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Scipione affricano Nicolò Minato 9 February 1664 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo  
Muzio Scevola Giovanni Faustini and Nicolò Minato 26 January 1665 Venice, Teatro San Samuele  
Pompeo Magno Nicolò Minato 20 February 1666 Venice, Teatro San Salvatore  
Eliogabalo Aurelio Aureli composed 1667, premiered 1999[6] Venice, Teatro San Salvatore
Coriolano Cristoforo Ivanovich 27 May 1669 Piacenza, Teatro Ducale music lost
Masenzio Giacomo Francesco Bussani composed 1673 unperformed and music lost

Modern performances edit

Cavalli's music was revived in the twentieth century. The Glyndebourne production of La Calisto is an example.[7] More recently, Hipermestra was performed at Glyndebourne in 2017.[8] The discography is extensive and Cavalli has featured in BBC Radio 3's Composer of the Week series.[3]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Walker, Thomas (2001). "Cavalli [Caletti, Caletto, Bruni, Caletti-Bruni, Caletto Bruni], (Pietro) [Pier] Francesco". Grove Music Online. Revised by Irene Alm. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.05207. ISBN 978-1-56159-263-0. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  2. ^ a b Walker, Thomas (1992). "Cavalli, Francesco", vol. 1, pp. 783–789, in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, four volumes, edited by Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan.
  3. ^ a b "Composer of the Week". Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  4. ^ "Cavalli (real name, Caletti), Pier Francesco", Retrieved 15 April 2024.
  5. ^ L'Helena rapita da Theseo, 1653 libretto, Library of Congress.
  6. ^ Fonseca-Wollheim, Corinna da (8 March 2013). "A Senate of Prostitutes? Now That's Opera!". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 February 2023.
  7. ^ Ross, Alex, "Unsung: Rediscovering the Operas of Francesco Cavalli." The New Yorker, 25 May 2009, pp. 84–85.
  8. ^ Maddocks, Fiona (26 May 2017). "Hipermestra review – Cavalli comes in from the cold". The Observer. Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2017.

Further reading edit

External links edit