Cavalli, Francesco
Dramma per musica
Venice 1655/1656
Edition no.
BA 8908-01
Volume / Series
Francesco Cavalli. Opere
Glixon, Beth / Badolato, Nicola / Glixon, Jonathan / Burden, Michael
Language(s) of work
Italian, English
Language(s) of text
Product format
Edition of selected works, Score, Urtext edition
Pages / Format
CXXVIII, 363 S. - 33,0 x 26,0 cm
“One Opera I saw represented about 16 severall times; and so farr was I from being weary of it, I would ride hundreds of miles to see the same over again (…).”

These words are from the travel diary of Robert Bargrave, a musically educated English merchant. During the 1656 Carnival of Venice, Bargrave attended, among others, a production of “L’Erismena” by Aurelio Aureli (libretto) und Francesco Cavalli (music). With 32 performances during the carnival season and 13 new productions at other Italian opera houses during the following two decades, the work became immensely successful.

Aureli provided Cavalli with a complex libretto that focused on the central figure, the king’s daughter Erismena who is surrounded by many other equally complex characters. After much turmoil and confusion, love prevails in the end.

Robert Bargrave commissioned his own copy of Cavalli’s score. After returning to England, he created his own score of the opera and translated the libretto into English. This autograph is the oldest preserved English opera score in existence. In 2008, it was declared by the British Government to be of “outstanding significance for the study of the history of music in the UK,” and was subsequently acquired by the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford.

As part of the “Francesco Cavalli – Opere”, critical editions of the Italian and English versions have been prepared by four editors including an edition with comparisons of the librettos. The main sources consist of a score from the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice and Bargrave’s Oxford score. This offers a multitude of possibilities for contemporary performances of an opera that was appreciated and beloved by Venetians and others during the 17th century.
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