chapter  3
17 Pages

Gesture and acting in Roman opera at the end of the seventeenth century

WithBarbara Nestola

This chapter focuses on Roman revivals of the 1690s, mostly of Venetian operas, in order to explore the link between the staging, that is the combination of set design and action taking place on the stage, and the development of Roman opera. While performances were common in aristocratic palaces, it is only with the opening of the Teatro Tordinona in 1671 that the Roman aristocracy, in spite of the frequent papal bans, attempted to establish commercial productions on a regular basis. Roman revivals of the 1690s provide enlightening information on character adjustments and propriety enhancement, showing an attempt to subscribe to the rules of classical theater. The comparison between a few examples of Venetian librettos and stage directions and their Roman revivals in the 1690s illustrates that staging and acting were significant elements of the performance, and were submitted to revision the same way that music and text were renewed or adapted to local taste.