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Costumes and Cosmopolitanism: Italian Opera in the North

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 November 2020


This article explores operatic costumes from a perspective of cultural exchange, with a focus on Giuseppe Sarti, first director of the permanent opera theatre in Copenhagen. Sarti's Danish audience had almost no prior exposure to opera and little understanding of Italian. After a disastrous first season, he took measures to realise more successful productions of Italian opera in a context of migration, notably by focusing on the costumes to bypass language differences. I argue here that the theatrical costumes commissioned by Sarti were crucial tools for transmitting and adapting the operatic genre to its new context, functioning as visual signifiers and as body technology. They represented the audience's first encounter with the character and conveyed crucial information about dramaturgy.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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Christine Jeanneret, University of Copenhagen, Denmark;

Preliminary versions of this article have been presented at TOSC@Bologna, 1st International Opera Studies Conference in Bologna (June 2015), at the 81st Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society, in Louisville (November 2015), at the Opera at Penn Workshop, in Philadelphia (February 2016) and as my acceptance talk at receiving Queen Margrethe's Rome Prize in October 2017. I would like to heartily thank the Carlsberg Foundation, Eric Bianchi, Valeria De Lucca, Petra Dotlačilová, Jens Hesselager, Anne Ørbæk Jensen, Marianne Pade and the Danish Academy in Rome, Karl Aage Rasmussen, Carmel Raz, Ellen Rosand, Magnus Tessing Schneider, Nikolaj Strands, Mélanier Traversier and Christoph Wernli for their invaluable assistance and suggestions. All translations are mine unless otherwise stated. I have retained the original spelling of the sources, except for the following modifications: in French and Italian, I have tacitly changed ‘j’ to ‘i’ and ‘u’ to ‘v’, capitalisation, accents, dieresis and cedillas have been modernised; in Danish, capitalisation according to eighteenth-century norms has been retained. Square brackets have been used to indicate errors or clarify meanings.


1 McCully, Emily Arnold, Clara (New York, 2016); Glynis Ridley, Clara's Grand Tour: Travels with a Rhinoceros in Eighteenth-Century Europe (New York, 2005)Google Scholar; Verheij, Irene and Reumer, Jelle W.F., Op reis met Clara: De geschiedenis van een bezienswaardige neushoorn (Rotterdam, 1992)Google Scholar.

2 For the full text of the letter in French with an English translation and a study of Italian opera in Copenhagen, see Jeanneret, Christine, ‘Making Opera in Migration: Giuseppe Sarti's Danish Recipe for Italian Opera’, Analecta Romana Instituti Danici (2018), 111–33Google Scholar, see respectively §23, 121, §7, §6, and §4, 117–18,

3 For a study of the adaptation and translation of Italian opera seria and the connections between aesthetics, nationalism and politics, see Christine Jeanneret, ‘Made in Italy, Tailored for the Danes: Giuseppe Sarti and Italian Opera in Copenhagen’, Music & Letters 102 (forthcoming, 2021).

4 Heinrich Schütz probably composed the music to accompany two German plays, Wie Aquilo der Regent mitternächtigen Länder die edle Princessin Orithyjam heimführet and Wie die Harpyiæ von zweyen septentrionalischen Helden verjaget to celebrate the wedding of Christian, Prince-Elect of Denmark in 1634. In 1689, during the performance Der vereinigte Götterstreit by Danish composer Povl Christian Schindler, a terrible fire trapped the spectators in the theatre, killing 180 people. Girolamo Pignani and Kaspar Förster's Il Cadmo, a ballet and divertissement, was performed at Frederiksborg in 1663 to celebrate the engagement of Frederik III's daughter, Anna Sofia, to the Elector of Saxony, Johann Georg III. Bartolomeo Bernardi's Il Gige fortunato was produced in 1703 to inaugurate Frederik IV's newly built theatre. See Hammerich, Angul, Dansk Musikhistorie indtil ca. 1700 (Copenhagen, 1921), 131Google Scholar; Schepelern, Gerhard, Operaens historie i Danmark 1634–1975 (Copenhagen, 1995), 12Google Scholar; Wade, Mara, Triumphus Nuptialis Danicus: German Court Culture and Denmark. The Great Wedding of 1634 (Wiesbaden, 1996)Google Scholar; Angela Romagnoli, ‘From the Habsburgs to the Hanswursts, to the Advent of Count Sporck: The Slow Progress of Italian Opera on the Bohemian Scene’, in Italian Opera in Central Europe, vol. 1: Institutions and Ceremonies, ed. Melania Bucciarelli, Norbert Dubowy and Reinhard Strohm (Berlin, 2006), 67–97, at 85–6.

5 Erich Müller von Azow, Angelo und Pietro Mingotti (Dresden, 1917); Bella Brover-Lubovsky, Christine Jeanneret, Nicolai Østenlund and Roland Pfeiffer, ‘Giuseppe Sarti’, in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani (Rome, 2017), On the complicated history of the Danish theatre, closing and opening several times, hosting simultaneously or alternatively French, German and Danish actors, along with Italian singers and dancers, see Thomas Overskou, Den danske Skueplads, i dens Historie fra de første Spor af danske Skuespil indtil vor Tid, 5 vols. (Copenhagen, 1854–64); Eiler Nystrøm, Den danske Komedies Oprindelse: Om Skuepladsen og Holberg (Copenhagen, 1918); Jensen, Anne E., Studier over europæisk Drama i Danmark 1722–1770, 2 vols. (Copenhagen, 1968)Google Scholar.

6 On Leonardo Marini, who was one of the first artists to be hired specifically as a costume designer in 1768 in Turin, see section ‘Opera costumes in Denmark’. Previously, the director of the troupe was usually in charge of creating and supervising the costumes, working together with a tailor.

7 Rigsarkivet København, Det Kongelige Teater og Kapel, 1752–1756, Breve resolutioner og lignende, 220, letter from Giuseppe Sarti to the opera management (henceforth RA Breve 220), 6: ‘Les habits doivent être selon le caractère du personnage, et doivent aller bien avec goût à la personne qui doit les porter … il faut y avoir l’œil pour qu'il fasse exactement ce qu'on lui ordonne et qu'il ne double pas la dépense à la direction par des choses innutiles [sic] à l'effet, et au bon goût théâtral. Des gros traits dans le dessein [sic] faits avec goût font un effet admirable sur le théâtre, et les masses de petites minuties … ne font que confusion, et rendent les habits insupportables aux acteurs par leur pesanteur, ce qui peut les incommoder beaucoup, et les empêcher de faire leur devoir. (Il faut avoir égard que ce sont des acteurs chantants.)’

8 RA Breve 220, 7: ‘Il me parroit [sic] que la direction n'a pas envie d'achetter [sic] notre garderobe, comme je lui avois propose et qu'elle est d'avis de se servir autant que l'on peut des habits faits de l'année passée.’ (‘I seem to understand that the management does not wish to buy our wardrobe, as I proposed, and that they wish to use the costumes made for last year as much as possible.’)

9 Nothing is known about the tailor Giuseppe Mazzioli, except a few mentions in various librettos, implying that he was a minor singer in Mingotti's troupe, before probably retiring and starting his job as a tailor for the Danish theatre. He sings the role of Alessandro in Paolo Scalabrini's Venceslao (Linz 1743 and Hamburg 1744); according to Jana Spáčilová, ‘Soloists of the Opera Productions in Brno, Holešov, Kroměříž and Vyškov Italian Opera Singers in Moravian Sources c. 1720–1740 (Part I)’, in Musicians’ Mobilities and Music Migrations in Early Modern Europe: Biographical Patterns and Cultural Exchanges, ed. Gesa zur Nieden and Berthold Over (Bielefeld, 2016), 255–74, at 272, he sings in Bohemia an unspecified role in Fernando (1737); according to Rainer Theobald, Die Opern-Stagioni der Brüder Mingotti: 1730–1766, ein neues Verzeichnis der Spielorte und Produktione: Chronologie aus Quellen zur Verbreitung und Rezeption der venezianischen Oper nördlich der Alpen (Vienna, 2015), he sings in Ipermestra (Linz, 1743) and Semiramide riconosciuta (1745). Apart from the opera discussed in this article, he is mentioned as a tailor for Zenobia (1754), in Copenhagen for Sarti's Il Vologeso (1754), Arianne e Teseo (1756) and Il gran Tamerlano (1764).

10 RA Breve 220, 8–9: ‘Quelque fois 40 personne [sic] s'habilloient à la fois sans aucunes [sic] confusion et lorsque on se désabilloit [sic] (point principal) les habits étoient placés à mesure très proprement, et avec ordre dans les dites caisses.’

11 RA Breve 220, 9: ‘Nos habits qui ont servi trois ans sont comme neufs et les vôtres qui n'ont servi qu'un an sont déjà vieux’. By ‘our clothes’, Sarti certainly refers to the wardrobe of his company, which he probably bought or obtained from Mingotti, when the latter went bankrupt.

12 The chains are a famous example for French actress La Clairon in Électre's role, as we shall see later. The magic wand and the handkerchief are recurring in eighteenth-century costume drawings of French opera and theatre; Benoît Dratwicki, ‘L'accessoire de scène et son maniement dans le théâtre lyrique français: l'emploi, l'attribut et sa gestuelle (1672–1791)’, paper presented at conference ‘Geste de la main, mouvement de la voix: Entretiens de musique ancienne en Sorbonne’, Paris, 15–16 June 2018.

13 RA Breve 220, 8: ‘Il seroit à souhaiter que la direction s'attachat cet homme-là pour faire bien des choses que Mazzioli ne fait pas, ce sont les casquets [sic], bonnets, boudrieres [sic = poudrières] etc. et autres petites choses que doit [sic] porter les acteurs.’

14 For the distinction between specialisation and versatility in the Italian diaspora, see Strohm, Reinhard, ed., The Eighteenth-Century Diaspora of Italian Music and Musicians (Turnhout, 2001), 32–3Google Scholar.

15 First formulated by Espagne, Michel and Werner, Michael, ‘Deutsch-französischer Kulturtransfer im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert: zu einem neuen interdisziplinären Forschungsprogramm des CNRS’, Francia 13 (1985), 502–10Google Scholar; Michel Espagne and Michael Werner, eds., Transferts: les relations interculturelles dans l'espace franco-allemand (XVIIIe-XIXe siècles) (Paris, 1988), this approach has then been developed by Michael Werner and Bénédicte Zimmermann, as histoire croisée: ‘Vergleich, Transfer, Verflechtung: Der Ansatz der Histoire croisée und die Herausforderung des Transnationalen’, Geschichte und Gesellschaft 28 (2002), 607–36; Michael Werner and Bénédicte Zimmermann, eds., De la comparaison à l'histoire croisée (Paris, 2004). In the present day, the terms ‘cultural translation’ or ‘cultural exchange’ are used to avoid the unidirectional vision of a transmitting and receiving culture, and to involve ideas going beyond language, including values, patterns of thought and structures of knowledge: Bhabha, Homi, The Location of Culture (London, 1994)Google Scholar; Peter Burke and Ronnie Po-chia Hsia, eds., Cultural Translation in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2007); Stefanie Stockhorst, ed., Cultural Transfer through Translation: The Circulation of Enlightened Thought in Europe by Means of Translation (New York and Amsterdam, 2010); Gesa Stedman, Cultural Exchange in Seventeenth-Century France and England (Farnham, 2013); Michael North, ed., Kultureller Austausch: Bilanz und Perspektiven der Frühneuzeitforschung (Cologne, 2009); Stephen Greenblatt, ed., Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto (Cambridge, 2009). On music and cultural exchanges more specifically, see Strohm, ed., The Eighteenth-Century Diaspora; Christian Meyer, ed., Le musicien et ses voyages: pratiques, réseaux et représentations (Berlin, 2003); Roberta Montemarra Marvin and Downing A. Thomas, eds., Operatic Migrations: Transforming Works and Crossing Boundaries (Ashgate, 2006); Annegret Fauser and Mark Everist, eds., Music, Theater, and Cultural Transfer: Paris, 1830–1914 (Chicago, 2009); Musiques nomades: objets, réseaux, itinéraires (Europe, XVIIe–XIXe siècles), ed. Mélanie Traversier, Diasporas 26 (2015); zur Nieden and Over, eds., Musicians’ Mobilities; Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire, Philippe Bourdin and Charlotta Wolff, eds., Moving Scenes: The Circulation of Music and Theatre in Europe, 1700–1815 (Oxford, 2018) and the project ‘Reimagining Italianità: Opera and Musical Culture in Transnational Perspective’, directed by Axel Körner, Francesca Vella and Ben Walton,

16 Jean-Loup Amselle, Branchements: anthropologie de l'universalité des cultures (Paris, 2001) and Espagne, ‘La notion de transfert culturel’, Revue sciences/lettres 1 (2013),

17 Benedict R. Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London, 1983).

18 For the Republic of Letters during the seventeenth century, see Marc Fumaroli, Peiresc: Prince de la République des Lettres (Brussels, 1992); Anthony Grafton, Bring Out Your Dead: The Past as Revelation (Cambridge, MA, 2010); Peter N. Miller, Peiresc's Europe: Learning and Virtue in the Seventeenth Century (New Haven, 2000); Peter N. Miller, Peiresc's Mediterranean World (Cambridge, MA, 2015).

19 Robert Fine, Cosmopolitanism (New York, 2007); David Adams and Galin Tihanov, eds., Enlightenment Cosmopolitanism (New York, 2011); Collins, Sarah and Gooley, Dana, ‘Music and the New Cosmopolitanism: Problems and Possibilities’, The Musical Quarterly 99 (2016), 139–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

20 Greenblatt, Cultural Mobility, 2, Collins and Gooley, ‘Music and the New Cosmopolitanism’.

21 The Danish conductor and author Gerhard Schepelern dedicates less than ten pages to Sarti and Italian opera in his two books: Operaens historie and Italienerne paa Hofteatret, 2 vols. (Copenhagen, 1976).

22 Only one collection of essays and one article have been published during the twentieth century: Carl Thrane, ‘Sarti in Kopenhagen’, Sammelbände der Internationalen Musikgesellschaft 3 (1902), 528–38; Giuseppe Sarti musicista faentino: atti del convegno internazionale (Faenza 25–27 Novembre 1983), ed. Maria Baroni, Maria Gioia Tavoni, and Giuseppe Vecchi (Modena, 1986). More recently, Sarti's career in Russia and Denmark has finally attracted some attention, such as the following works by Brover-Lubovsky, Bella: ‘Between Parma and St Petersburg: Giuseppe Sarti's Alessandro e Timoteo’, Die Tonkunst 13 (2013), 6881Google Scholar; ‘The ‘Greek Project’ of Catherine the Great and Giuseppe Sarti’, Journal of Musicological Research 32 (2013), 28–62; ‘Giuseppe Sarti and the Topos of the Tragic in Russian Music’, Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University Arts 9 (2019), 4–29; ‘Music for Cannons: Giuseppe Sarti in the Second Turkish War’, in Music and War, ed. Étienne Jardin (Turnhout, 2016), 71–88; ‘Andromeda Rescued on the Banks of the Neva: Opera for the Grand Master of the Order of Malta’ (forthcoming). For Denmark, see Jeanneret, ‘Making Opera in Migration’; and Jeanneret, ‘Made in Italy, Tailored for the Danes’.

23 On ‘de-nationalisation’ in eighteenth-century French theatre as a cosmopolitan model, see Rahul Markovits, Civiliser l'Europe: politiques du théâtre français au XVIIe siècle (Paris, 2014); on ‘erasing differences’ between national styles during the eighteenth century, see Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker, A History of Opera: The Last Four Hundred Years (London, 2012), 95.

24 For a study of these aspects in a different geographical space, see Suzanne Aspden, ed., Operatic Geographies: The Place of Opera and the Opera House (Chicago, 2019).

25 Nussbaum, Martha, ‘Kant and Stoic Cosmopolitanism’, Journal of Political Philosophy 5 (1997), 125CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Rosi Braidotti, Patrick Hanafin and Bolette Blaagaard, eds., After Cosmopolitanism (New York, 2013); Steven Vertovec and Robin Cohen, Migration, Diasporas, and Transnationalism (Cheltenham, 1999). David Inglis, ‘Alternative Histories of Cosmopolitanism’, in Routledge International Handbook of Cosmopolitanism Studies, ed. Gerard Delanty (London, 2012), 11–24.

26 On Enlightenment and periphery, see Charles W. J. Withers, Placing the Enlightenment: Thinking Geographically about the Age of Reason (Chicago and London, 2007), 6, 27–38, and Kostas Gavroglu, ed., Sciences in the European Periphery during the Enlightenment (Dordrecht, 1999).

27 On this specific aspect, see Laurent Angliviel de La Beaumelle, Discours prononcé à l'ouverture des leçons publiques de langue et de belles-lettres françoises (Copenhagen, 1751), where he examines the following question: ‘Un empire se rend-il plus respectable par les arts qu'il crée que par ceux qu'il adopte?’ (‘Does an empire become more respectable by the arts it creates or by those it adopts?’)

28 Jeanneret, ‘Made in Italy, Tailored for the Danes’.

29 Ulinka Rublack, Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe (Oxford, 2011), 31–78; Ulinka Rublack, ‘Clothing and Cultural Exchange in Renaissance Germany’, in Cultural Exchange in Early Modern Europe, vol. 4: Forging European Identities 1400–1700, ed. Herman Roodenburg, gen. ed. Robert Munchembled (Cambridge, 2007), 258–88; Christophe Breward, The Culture of Fashion (Manchester, 1995); Isabelle Paresys and Natacha Coquery, Se vêtir à la cour en Europe (1400–1815) (Villeneuve-d'Ascq, 2011); Pierre Arizzoli-Clémentel and Pascale Gorguet Ballesteros, eds., Fastes de cour et cérémonies royales: le costume de cour en Europe, 1650–1800 (Paris and Versailles, 2009).

30 Jennifer Craik, Face of Fashion: Cultural Studies in Fashion, 2nd edn (London, 2005), 1–16; Joanne B. Eicher and Sandra Lee Evenson, eds., The Visible Self: Global Perspectives on Dress, Culture, and Society, 4th edn (New York, 2015), 30–43.

31 Daniel Roche, La culture des apparences: une histoire du vêtement, XVIIe–XVIIIe siècle, 2nd edn (Paris, 2007); Gilles Deleuze, Le Pli: Leibniz et le Baroque (Paris, 1988), 413–31; Gabriele Mentges, ‘European Fashion (1450–1950)’, European History Online (EGO) (2011),

32 Paola Bignami, Storia del costume teatrale: oggetti per esibirsi nello spettacolo e in società (Rome, 2005); Anne Verdier, L'habit de théâtre: histoire et poétique de l'habit de théâtre en France au XVIIe siècle (1606–1680) (Vijon, 2006); Joël Huthwohl, Comédiens et costumes des Lumières: miniatures de Fesch et Whirsker, collection de la Comédie-Française (Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule, 2011); Valeria De Lucca, ed., Fashioning Opera and Musical Theatre: Stage Costumes from the Late Renaissance to 1900 (Venice, 2014),; Didier Doumergue and Anne Verdier, eds., Le costume de scène: objet de recherche (Cirey-lès-Mareilles, 2014).

33 De Lucca, ed., Fashioning Opera; Michael Burden, Wendy Heller, Jonathan Hicks and Ellen Lockhart, eds., Staging History: 1780–1814 (Oxford, 2016).

34 Augustin-Théodore-Vincent Lebeau de Schosne, Lettre à Monsieur de Crébillon de l'Académie françoise sur les spectacles de Paris (La Haye, 1761), 6: ‘Rien n’étoit si comique que l'habit tragique.’

35 Mercure de France (April 1734), quoted in Adolphe Jullien, Histoire du costume au théâtre depuis l'origine du théâtre en France jusqu’à nos jours (Paris, 1880), 65: ‘sans panier, sans jupe, sans corps, échevelée et sans aucun ornement sur la tête. Elle n’était vêtue, avec son corset et son jupon, que d'une simple robe de mousseline tournée en draperie ajustée sur le modèle d'une statue grecque.’

36 David Garrick, An Essay on Acting: In Which Will be Consider'd the Mimical Behaviour of a Certain Fashionable Faulty Actor (London, 1744); Joseph Roach, The Player's Passion: Studies in the Science of Acting, 2nd edn (Ann Arbor, 1993); Alan Swanson, David Garrick and the Development of English Comedy (Lewiston, 2013); Leigh Woods, Garrick Claims the Stage: Acting as Social Emblem in Eighteenth-Century England (Westport, CT, 1984), 4–5; Rogers, Pat, ‘David Garrick: The Actor as Culture Hero’, Themes in Drama 6 (1984), 6383Google Scholar.

37 Jean-Georges Noverre, Lettres sur la danse, et sur les ballets (Lyon, 1760), 189: ‘les manches retroussées, les bras ensanglantés, les cheveux hérissés et les yeux égarés’.

38 Published in Henri-Louis Lekain, Mémoires (Paris, 1801), 271–81.

39 Charles-Simon Favart, Mémoires et correspondance littéraires, dramatiques et anecdotiques, vol. 1 (Paris, 1808), lxxvii: ‘ce fut elle, qui, la première observa le costume; elle osa sacrifier les agrémens de la figure à la vérité des caractères’.

40 Huthwohl, Comédiens et costumes des Lumières, 37–42.

41 Hyppolite Clairon, Mémoires d'Hyppolite Clairon et réflexions sur l'art dramatique publiés par elle-même (Paris, 1798), 53–5: ‘Le costume ajoute beaucoup à l'illusion du spectateur, et le comédien en prend plus aisément le ton de son rôle: cependant le costume exactement suivi n'est pas praticable; il serait indécent et mesquin. … Je désire surtout qu'on évite avec soin tous les chiffons, toutes les modes du moment. … La seule mode à suive est le costume du rôle qu'on y joue. On doit surtout arranger ses vêtements d'après les personnages; l’âge, l'austérité, la douleur, rejettent tout ce que permet la jeunesse, le désir de plaire, et le calme de l’âme. Hermione avec des fleurs serait ridicule: la violence de son caractère, et le chagrin qui la dévore ne lui permettent ni recherches ni coquetterie dans sa toilette; elle peut avoir un habit magnifique, mais il faut que l'air le plus négligé dans tout le reste prouve qu'elle ne s'occupe point d'elle-même. Le premier coup d’œil que le public jette sur l'actrice doit le préparer au caractère qu'elle va développer.’

42 Huthwohl, Comédiens et costumes des Lumières, 39.

43 Carlson, Marvin, and, ‘Rosenstand-GoiskeDen dramatiske Journal”: Scandinavia's First Theatrical Criticism’, Scandinavian Studies 47 (1975), 1835Google Scholar and Jeanneret, ‘Made in Italy, Tailored for the Danes’.

44 Two comedies published in 1725 specifically denounced opera: Ulysses von Ithacia, eller en tydsk Comedie (Ulysses of Ithaca, or a German Play) focused on absurd plots and exotic settings, whereas Kilderejsen (The Trip to the Baths) ridiculed the audience. Composed by Reinhard Keiser (1674–1739), the operas given in Copenhagen were performed in German with Italianate music: Ludvig Holberg, Komedier 3, ed. Henrik Andersson et al. (Aarhus, 2017),; Jens Hesselager, ‘Recitative and Modernity in Copenhagen, c. 1720–1850’, in ‘Verwandlung der Welt?’ Die Musikkultur des Ostseeraums in der Sattelzeit, ed. Martin Loeser (Berlin, 2016), 61–76; and Bent Holm, Skal dette være Troja? Om Holberg i virkeligheden (Copenhagen, 2004).

45 Jeanneret, ‘Made in Italy, Tailored for the Danes’.

46 Ole Feldbæk, Dansk Identitetshistorie, vol. 1: Fædreland og modersmål 1536–1789 (Copenhagen, 1991); Tine Damsholt, Fædrelandskærlighed og borgerdyd, patriotisk diskurs og militære reformer i Danmark i sidste del af 1700-tallet (Copenhagen, 2000); Jacob Ingemann Parby, ‘At blive, migration og identitet i København, ca. 1770–1830’ (PhD diss., Roskilde Universitet, 2015); Jeanneret, ‘Made in Italy, Tailored for the Danes’.

47 Quoted in Carlson, ‘Rosenstand-Goiske and “Den dramatiske Journal”’, 21: ‘Baronen i Jeppe paa Bierget har jeg seet en høj Sommerdag spadsere paa Marken, i Fløiels Klæder, og med Hatten under Armen. Heltene kom lige fra Slaget saa pudrede som de skulde gaae til Bal.’ The quotation is from Rosenstand-Goiske, Kritiske Efterretninger om den kongelige danske Skueplads (1778–1780), ed. Christian Molbech (Copenhagen, 1839), 16.

48 Mercedes Viale Ferrero, ed., La scenografia dalle origine al 1936 (Turin, 1980), 576–9, orig. pub. Leonardo Marini, Ragionamento intorno alla foggia degli abiti teatrali, in Abiti antichi di diverse nazioni d'Europa e d'Asia (Turin, 1771).

49 Marini, in Ferrero, ed., La scenografia dalle origine al 1936, 577: ‘Ho pur creduto, che si dovessero abolire tanti altri gotici ornamenti consacrati già da una sciocca abitudine, o da inveterati pregiudizi popolari, non giudicando lodevole il far pompa d'una smisurata ricchezza fuori di sito, e di un bizzarro disegno per servire al capriccio di una galante cantatrice, o di un indotto soprano. … La troppa quantità degli ornati, che ci raggiano all'occhio in un tempo istesso, non ci lasciano ben distinguere le modulazioni tutte di un disegno, e in vece di recarci piacere ci lasciano una giusta cagione di confusione, e fastidio. Su questo punto egli è affatto ridicolo, e cieco il pregiudizio della maggior parte dei cantanti … che se non son carichi di lustrini, di fettuccie, e di nastri, non son soddisfatti, credendosi con tali superflui ornamenti di acquistare maggior merito, e leggiadria.’

50 Marini, in Ferrero, ed., La scenografia dalle origine al 1936, 578: ‘Mi proposi tosto di sradicare quanto io potessi quegli abusi tutti, che da tanto tempo in qua si sono introdotti nei teatri italiani, massime dell'opera in musica, e mi credetti perciò in dovere di contenermi fra i limiti di una ragionata invenzione e di essere sopra tutto esattissimo osservatore del costume, e dei tempi. … Ogni nazione ebbe, ed ha le usanze sue proprie: tutte sono differenti in qualche parte le une dalle altre nel gusto; e questo è per l'appunto ciò, che mi proposi d'osservare accuratamente, con intenzione sempre di esporre agli occhi di un pubblico illuminato il vero, o almeno il verisimile.’

51 RA Breve 220, 6: ‘Ce qui contribue encore beaucoup au bon effet, c'est l'assortissement [sic] des couleurs.’

52 The anonymous treatise Il corago devotes a chapter to the costumes; see Paolo Fabbri and Angelo Pompilio, eds., Il corago: o vero alcune osservazioni per metter bene in scena le composizioni drammatiche (ca. 1630) (Florence, 1983), 115: ‘Tre cose a me pare che faccino la bellezza de l’abito: il taglio della veste, l'increspature e finimenti che sopra vi si mettono, et il concerto de’ colori quali vorranno essere pieni e non colori deboli.’ (‘It seems to me that three things make the beauty of costume: the cut of the garment, the puckering and the ornaments sewn on it, and the concert of colours, which should be full and not weak colours.’) See also the description of Ipermestra (Cavalli/Moniglia, 1658) in Orazio Ricasoli Rucellai, Descrizione della presa d'Argo e de gli amori di Linceo con Ipermestra (Florence, 1658), 6: ‘Per l'invenzione dunque de gli abiti … acciò che ne gli ricavassero si come fecero perfettamente con bella varietà di colori, e con ben'accordato concerto acconciamente divisati, e distinti.’ (‘For the invention of the costumes … so that they [the noblemen in charge of costume design] find out how to do it perfectly with a beautiful variety of colours, and with a combination well harmonised, appropriately divided and distinct.’)

53 RA Breve 220, 7: ‘Sur cela donc il faudra néccessairement [sic] faire six nouveaux habits: Dans l'opéra Semiramis, un pour Semiramis en homme à l'héroïque, un pour Ircano à la barbare. Dans l'opéra Didon, un pour Didon en femme d'une couleur brune, un pour Iarba en prince neigre [sic]. Dans l'opéra Narcisse, un pour Narcisse (il faut que ce soit un habit de goût), un pour Tirreno en grand prêtre.’

54 RA Breve 220, 9–10: ‘Je dois encore représenter que outre les six nouveaux habits sérieux, marqués ci-dessus, qu'il faut necessairement faire, il faut encore y en ajouter un septième pour Mlle Galeotti la cadette; la raison en est, que les deux habits sérieux que l'on a fait pour elle l'année passée sont: un rouge, magnifique, pour Nitteti et un bleu foncé pour Erissena dans l'opéra Alexandre.

Le rouge pourroit lui servir pour Tamiri dans l'opéra Semiramis: mais le bleu ne pourra pas aller pour Selene dans l'opéra Didon. Car l'aînée, qui est Didon, doit avoir un habit justement d'une couleur approchante, étant ainsi son caractère, et il n'est pas convenable que les deus [sic] femmes dans le même opéra soient habillées presque de la même couleur. Il faut que Selene ayet [sic] un habit gay. Si l'on prennoit l'oposit [sic], en donnant l'habit bleu à Tamiri; cet habit-là seroit trop pauvre pour le faire porter à la princesse et reine des Bactrianiens, le jour même de ses noces, qu'elle se montre à une multitude de princes étrangers pour en choisir un époux. Si l'on vouloit absolument épargner en ne pensant qu’à cette année ici; l'on pourroit faire changer de face à l'habit jaune qu'a eu l'aînée l'année passée dans L'Alexandre en l'accommodant pour la cadette : il s'agit de savoir s'il vaut la peine de gâter un habit qui a été fait pour la grande, et qu'elle pourroit porter une autre année. Il dépend de la direction de décider là-dessus.’

55 RA Breve 220, 9: ‘étant ainsi son caractère’.

56 Metastasio, Pietro, Semiramide: dramma per musica da rappresentarsi sul Regio Teatro Danese = Semiramis: et musikalsk Skue-Spil til at opføres paa den Kongelige Danske Skueplads (Copenhagen, 1762), 124Google Scholar: ‘ingombra una femmina imbelle il vostro impero’.

57 Metastasio, Pietro, Alessandro nelle Indie: dramma per musica … da rappresentarsi sul Regio Teatro Danese = Alexander i Indien: Et musicalsk Skue-Spil … til at opføres paa den Kongelige Danske Skueplads (Copenhagen, 1761), 14Google Scholar: ‘Erissena incatenata’.

58 Metastasio, Pietro, Nitteti: dramma per musica da rappresentarsi sul Regio Teatro Danese = Nitetis: Et musicalsk Skue-Spil, til at opføres paa den Kongelige Danske Skueplads (Copenhagen, 1761), 14Google Scholar: ‘entrambe in abito pastorale’.

59 RA Breve 220, 9: ‘N.B. si vous faite l'emplette de notre garderobe il n'y a pas besoin d'autres embaras [sic], car il y a entre autre [sic] un habit magnifique qui seroit justement à propos pour Tamiri. … Pour les nouvelles petites pièces, il faudra presque tout faire de nouveau. Notre garderobe est bien fournie la dessus; et les habits sont comme neufs.’

60 Rigsarkivet København, Teaterkassen, Reviderede Regnskaber, Regnskaber for Det kgl. Teater og Kapel (1749–1848), 11 September 1762.

61 Marini in Ferrero, ed., La scenografia dalle origine al 1936, 579: ‘Ho bensì procurato di ricercare una bella semplicità, appoggiata primieramente all'erudizione, e poscia accompagnata dal gusto, e dal contrapposto dei colori.’

62 Planelli, Antonio, Dell'opera in musica (Naples, 1772), 183Google Scholar: ‘Inventato il modo dell'abito, dee l'artefice porre attenzione alla scelta del colore, per soddisfare all'estetico dell'arte sua. Il colore degli abiti vuol essere diverso da quello della scena, ma sì, che facciano insieme armonia.’

63 Noverre, Jean-Georges, ‘Lettre XXVI, des costumes’, in Lettres sur les arts imitateurs en général, et sur la danse en particulier (Paris, 1807), 384–5Google Scholar: ‘La danse au contraire doit présenter à chaque instant de nouveaux dessins, de nouveaux groupes et de nouveaux tableaux. Il est donc un art ou un pressentiment heureux qui apprend à juger des effets par l'assortiment des couleurs; de telle sorte que cinq principaux personnages obligés de changer de place, et de former successivement divers tableaux, doivent être vêtus de manière à n'offrir que des groupes qui se lient par le choix et l'entente des couleurs. Si ces couleurs sont mal choisies, elles contractent une sorte d'antipathie; elles se heurtent, se choquent et se détruisent.’

64 Latour, Bruno, Où atterrir? Comment s'orienter en politique (Paris, 2017)Google Scholar.

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