From the villa to the public theater
The Fabio Chigi family was among the richest and most powerful clans in Siena, and several of its members established themselves as leading figures in Roman life during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Chigi villa at Ariccia outside Rome appears to have been one of the family’s favorite retreats and was the site of two memorable operatic performances. The Palazzo Pubblico housed the most important theater for dramatic performances in Siena. As Sara Mamone has noted, the ruling family was at a distinct disadvantage from the start: the theater was housed in a space that did not lend itself easily to the representation of Medici power even when Mattias de’ Medici was alive. In 1704, Fabio Spannocchi informed the governor that the singers wanted to use the Saloncino because the big public theater would cost too much and the three-character opera would not appear to its best advantage in such a large performance space.