chapter  5
13 Pages

Theatricality in the Sistine Chapel

WithPeter Gillgren

One of the best sources for studying the relationship between Baroque music and ceremony in the Sistine Chapel is Andrea Adami’s Osservazioni per ben regolare il coro dei cantori della cappella pontificia from 1711. The Sistine Chapel was conceived as a public place and designed for a great number of visitors from the very beginning. From Adami’s descriptions it is clear that the compositions for the Sistine Chapel were highly site-specific works. The use of costumes, props and extensive decorations in order to achieve strong visual effects is common in both the Sistine Chapel and on the opera scene. In the Sistine Chapel, it may also be argued, the performers themselves were the main recipients while the outside public was secondary. In the Sistine Chapel and in secular musical pieces, Adami would use similar theatrical effects and sign systems.