chapter  4
16 Pages

Was man made for the Sabbath?

66Site, space, and identity in Jesuit musical life 1
WithEric Bianchi

This chapter examines the Jesuits’ non-performance of the most common musical rituals as a strong performance of their novel corporate identity. It explores tensions concerning sacred space and priestly identity within the Roman Jesuit community, through a peculiar seventeenth-century musical technology: the castrato. The Catholic Sabbath was marked especially by the obligation to perform a complex sung ritual. The Jesuits’ decision rendered the Divine Office ever more central to the identity of choral orders. Just as Franciscans built their institutions on urban margins to evangelize the dispossessed, Jesuits embraced downtown life among the elite. If Della Valle is any indication, the Jesuits did well to package liturgical music as an audience-oriented entertainment because worshippers already operated as free consumers in Rome’s competitive “worship economy.” The Jesuit theatrical imagination was sharpened by regular practice of Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises.