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Orpheus's Civilising Song, or, the Politics of Voice in Late Enlightenment Italy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 April 2020


This article explores new conceptions of voice in late eighteenth-century Italy as expressed in discourses connected with opera reform. Inspired by the convergence of Enlightenment epistemologies of feeling and neoclassical aesthetics, certain progressive singers and literati sought to rebrand the singing voice as an agent of moral and political edification. Here, this ideology-laden project is traced through two conflicting representations of singer-poets, both of whom wield the power of lyric song to achieve political ends. First, the article unpacks Giuseppe Millico's narrative of his performance as Gluck's Orfeo (published in Naples in 1782), in which the singer argues for voice as audible interiority and, as such, a warrant of political subjectivity. It then turns to a reading of Gastone della Torre di Rezzonico's libretto for Giuseppe Sarti's dramma per musica Alessandro e Timoteo (Parma, 1782), in which voice transforms into an instrument of anti-absolutist critique. The article concludes by considering how these two modes of voice were imagined, together, as capable of revivifying Italian culture.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2020

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Jessica Gabriel Peritz, Yale University, USA;


1 ‘Mentre si cantava il recitativo che precede l'aria “Che farò senza Euridice”, riuscì al cantante di colorire così bene la sua voce che fece piangere tutti gli ascoltatori e fin d'allora mi accorsi, che anche da noi si potrebbero ottenere i medesimi effetti della musica greca.’ Millico, Giuseppe, [Preface], La pietà d'amore, libretto by Lucchesi, Antonio (Naples, 1782), [5]Google Scholar. The preface is reproduced in its entirety, in the original Italian, in Finscher, Ludwig, ‘Der Opernsänger als Komponist: Giuseppe Millico und seine Oper La pietà d'amore’, in Opernstudien: Anna Amalie Abert zum 65. Geburtstag, ed. Hortschansky, Klaus (Tutzing, 1975), 6870Google Scholar.

2 Here and throughout, I use the English ‘Orpheus’ when writing about the figure in a general sense, and the Italian ‘Orfeo’ when referring to the opera character. All translations and musical transcriptions are my own.

3 On Millico's life, reception and compositions, see Finscher, ‘Der Opernsänger’, 57–90, and Irene Brandenburg, ‘Vito Giuseppe Millico: Studien zu Leben und Werk eines komponierenden Kastraten im 18. Jahrhundert’, PhD diss. (University of Salzburg, 1995). Millico was involved in various iterations of Gluck's Orfeo, and his La pietà d'amore might be read as continuing that work; see Martina, Alessandra, Orfeo-Orphée di Gluck: Storia della trasmissione e della recezione (Turin, 1995), esp. 84143Google Scholar.

4 Planelli, Antonio, Dell'opera in musica (Naples, 1772)Google Scholar, repr. in Degrada, Francesco, ed., Dell'opera in musica (Fiesole, 1981)Google Scholar; Mattei, Saverio, I libri poetici della Bibbia, 5 vols. (Naples, 1766–74)Google Scholar; La filosofia della musica appears in the final volume, which is quoted at length in Fabbri, Paolo, ‘Saverio Mattei e la “musica filosofica”’, in Studien zur italienischen Musikgeschichte 15, no. 2, ed. Lippmann, Friedrich (Regensburg, 1998), 611–29Google Scholar. For an overview of late eighteenth-century Neapolitan debates on opera, see Benedetto, Renato Di, ‘Music and Enlightenment’, in Naples in the Eighteenth Century: The Birth and Death of a Nation State, ed. Imbruglia, Girolamo (Cambridge, 2000), 135–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Millico's engagement with Neapolitan reform currents in his music for La pietà d'amore is explored, along with a thorough analysis of his intellectual debts to Planelli, in DelDonna, Anthony, ‘Tradition, Innovation, and Experimentation: The Dramatic Stage and New Modes of Performance in Late Eighteenth-Century Naples’, Quaderni d'italianistica 35 (2015), 139–72Google Scholar.

5 For a study on the relationships between voice, music and Italian cultural politics during this period, see Jessica Gabriel Peritz, ‘The Lyric Mode of Voice: Song and Subjectivity in Italy, 1769–1815', PhD diss. (University of Chicago, 2019).

6 See Verri, Pietro, ‘La musica’, in Il Caffè 2 (10 August 1765)Google Scholar, repr. in Il Caffè: ossia Brevi e vari discorsi distribuiti in fogli periodici, ed. Sergio Romagnoli (Milan, 1960), 343–7; Cesarotti, Melchiorre, Poesie di Ossian (Padua, 1772)Google Scholar; Bettinelli, Saverio, Dell'entusiasmo delle belle arti (Milan, 1769)Google Scholar; Feldman, Martha, ‘Music and the Order of the Passions’, in Representing the Passions: Histories, Bodies, Visions, ed. Meyer, Richard (Los Angeles, 2003), 3768Google Scholar; Castelvecchi, Stefano, Sentimental Opera: Questions of Genre in the Age of Bourgeois Drama (Cambridge, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Lockhart, Ellen, Animation, Plasticity, and Music in Italy, 1770–1830 (Oakland, CA, 2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and many others too numerous to list here.

7 The Orfeo in the 1762 Vienna premiere was the castrato Gaetano Guadagni, who is typically described as having had an alto range. Millico, a soprano, sang Orfeo's arias transposed up by either a step or a third (for instance, the Parma version of ‘Che farò senza Euridice?’ is in E-flat major, rather than the C major written for Guadagni). The various musical alterations for Parma, both vocal and instrumental, are laid out in Martina, Orfeo-Orphée, 84–8.

8 Millico appears to have understood quite well that Neapolitan audiences outside the royal court theatre might not respond warmly to full-on reform opera, especially given the enormous changes made to Orfeo ed Euridice for the 1774 run at San Carlo. On Gluck's reform operas in Naples, see Tufano, Lucio, ‘La “riforma” a Napoli: Materiali per un capitolo di storia della ricezione’, in Gluck der Europäer, ed. Brandenburg, Irene and Gölz, Tanja (Kassel, 2009), 103–43Google Scholar.

9 For a broad study of southern Italian antiquarianism and archaeology in this period, see Ceserani, Giovanna, Italy's Lost Greece: Magna Graecia and the Making of Modern Archaeology (Oxford, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For a more music-oriented study, see DelDonna, Anthony, ‘Opera, Antiquity, and the Neapolitan Enlightenment in Paisiello's Socrate immaginario (1775)’, in Opera, Theatrical Culture and Society in Late Eighteenth-Century Naples (Burlington, VT, 2012), 1342Google Scholar.

10 McGann, Jerome, The Poetics of Sensibility: A Revolution in Literary Style (Oxford, 1996), 7Google Scholar.

11 Stefano Castelvecchi, ‘Sensibility and the Moral Cure’, in Sentimental Opera, 143–56.

12 Vincent-Buffault, Anne, The History of Tears: Sensibility and Sentimentality in France, trans. Bridgman, Teresa (Basingstoke, UK, 1990), 67–8Google Scholar.

13 On Farinelli and breaking character, see Feldman, Martha, The Castrato: Reflections on Natures and Kinds (Berkeley, 2014), 43Google Scholar.

14 Fried, Michael, Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot (Berkeley, 1980)Google Scholar, passim; Castelvecchi, Stefano, ‘From Nina to Nina: Psychodrama, Absorption and Sentiment in the 1780s’, Cambridge Opera Journal 8 (July 1996), 98–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Guin, Elisabeth Le, Boccherini's Body: An Essay in Carnal Musicology (Berkeley, 2005), 80–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Feldman, Martha, Opera and Sovereignty: Transforming Myths in Eighteenth-Century Italy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 375–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Lockhart, Ellen, ‘Alignment, Absorption, Animation: Pantomime Ballet in the Lombard Illuminismo’, Eighteenth-Century Music 8 (2011), 239–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

15 Frances Burney, letter of 27 February 1773, in The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney, ed. Lars E. Troide, 5 vols. (Oxford, 1987), I: 260.

16 Burney, Frances, Evelina, ed. Bloom, Edward A. (Oxford, 2002 [1778]), 93–4Google Scholar.

17 As Elisabeth Le Guin has noted, within the sentimental mode the narrator, whether Samuel Richardson's Pamela or, as I suggest here, Millico, had to appear natural in order to draw the spectator(s) into the scene; see Le Guin, Boccherini's Body, 80–3. Millico writes that he was in Parma for the premiere (‘Ero a Parma’), then switches to third person when he describes the Orfeo singer (‘mentre si cantava … riuscì al cantante’, and so on), as if he had been in the audience rather than onstage.

18 ‘esprimendo le parole con quella naturalezza, ch’è necessaria al sentimento del Dramma'. Millico, [Preface], [5].

19 Gluck, Christoph Willibald and Calzabigi, Ranieri de’, ‘Preface’, Alceste (Vienna, 1769)Google Scholar; Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, Essai sur l'origine des langues (Geneva, 1781)Google Scholar.

20 Rousseau, , Dictionnaire de musique (Paris, 1768)Google Scholar, s.v. ‘castrato’.

21 ‘Mentre vogliono comandare, adirarsi o ripigliare, mandano fuori una voce femminile, che in quell'incontro muove non a timore, ma a riso.’ Planelli, Dell'opera, 170; Degrada, ed., Dell'opera, 89–90.

22 For a highly conventional example of how virtuosic voices were satirised as making audible grotesquely suffering, malfunctioning bodies, see Borsa, Matteo, La musica imitativa, in Opuscoli scelti sulle scienze e sulle arti, ed. Amoretti, Carlo and Soave, Francesco (Milan, 1781)Google Scholar, IV: 195–234. On castrati as ‘denatured’, see Feldman, The Castrato, 177–8.

23 ‘Si dovrebbe coltivare il loro spirito per renderlo sensibile ai movimenti della natura […] si dovrebbe loro insegnare a discernere le bellezze della poesia, perchè si vestissero dei sentimenti degli autori, e provassero in loro medesimi quegli effetti, che dovranno produrre negli ascoltanti, e quando ciò fosse fatto, si dovrebbe esercitare la loro voce naturale.' Millico, [Preface], [5–6]. He emphasises that singing students should receive not just a musical-practical education but a humanistic one, studying history in addition to literature in order to learn empathy for the characters they will portray.

24 See Part IV, ‘Della Pronunziazione dell'opera in musica’, in Planelli, Dell'opera, 152–78; Degrada, ed., Dell'opera, 81–93.

25 Grande dizionario della lingua italiana (Turin, [1961–2004]), s.v. ‘lirico’, §2. The first literary example given here for this meaning of lirico comes from Verri's 1792 novel, though it is not explicitly connected to voice there. Instead, on vocality in Le notti romane, see Lockhart, Animation, Plasticity, and Music, 85–111.

26 ‘Mi dirà forse qualche moderno cantore, che non tutte le voci sono suscettibili di queste perfezioni, e che non tutte per conseguenza possono produrre gli effetti della musica greca. Io gli rispondo, che se gli organi della gola, della lingua, e del petto del giovane cantante saranno ben formati, tutte le voci produrrano presso a poco il medesimo effetto.' Millico, [Preface], [6].

27 Certainly this was, in part, an advertisement for Millico's skill as a voice teacher, a position he then held at the Neapolitan court. And indeed, Millico followed these claims with a history of his own self-taught technique and his successful instruction of Gluck's niece in Vienna ([Preface], [6–7]).

28 Examples in this period include Instruction of Mr. Tenducci, to His Scholars (London, 1785) and various editions of Solfèges d'Italie (Paris, 1772–). On nineteenth-century vocal manuals and subjectivity, see Davies, James Q., ‘In Search of Voice’, in Romantic Anatomies of Performance (Oakland, CA, 2014), 123–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar; on voice and the political, see Davies, James Q., ‘Voice Belongs’, in the colloquy ‘Why Voice Now?’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 68 (Fall 2015), 677–81Google Scholar.

29 ‘Ma per ottenere questo intento sarebbe a mio credere necessario, che i maestri de’ cantanti fossero i più famosi cantanti.’ Millico, [Preface], [6].

30 ‘Dunque l'arte, la fatica, lo studio può formare il cantante. La maniera di cantare non è che una, cioè la cognizione di muovere le passioni, ed insinuarsi nei cuori.’ Millico, [Preface], [7].

31 See Agnew, Vanessa, Enlightenment Orpheus: The Power of Music in Other Worlds (Oxford, 2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Polzonetti, Pierpaolo, ‘Tartini and the Tongue of Saint Anthony’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 67 (Summer 2014), 429–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

32 ‘[Orfeo] vi compose in versi di maravigliosissima poesia, con la quale addimestica i barbari per gli orecchi … Viene finalemente Orfeo ad insegnarvi l'umanità … E con tal lira, Orfeo ed altri poeti teologi, che professavano scienza di leggi, fondarono e stabilirono l'umanità della Grecia … Talchè la lira fu l'unione delle corde o forze de’ padri, onde si compose la forza pubblica, che si dice “imperio civile”.’ Vico, Giambattista, La scienza nuova (Naples, 1725–44), §79, §615Google Scholar.

33 Vico likely believed that archaic lyric poetry had been sung, as this was a widespread assumption during the eighteenth century, but he nevertheless referred to Orpheus's law-giving verses as ‘poesia’ rather than ‘canto’. ‘Canto’, by contrast, appears in La scienza nuova to denote more specifically musical-vocal types of practice; for example, Apollonian singing contests or the songs of the Sirens. See La scienza nuova, passim.

34 ‘Orfeo … divien padre e signore di popoli mansuefatti al suo canto, e fonda il più bello imperio, che fosse mai, l'imperio della umanità e dell'amichevole vita.' Translated into the past tense in English for clarity. Bettinelli, Dell'entusiasmo, 327–8. Dell'entusiasmo was reprinted in the first edition of Bettinelli's Opere (Venice, 1780), which seems to be where many Settecento readers encountered it.

35 ‘Da quali [Orfeo, Anfione, et alia] erano stati invitati [gli uomini] ad abbandonare una vita brutale e a godere sotto la protezion delle leggi le dolcezze della civile società … Con un canto accompagnato dall'accordo d'un musico stromento furono loro insegnati i doveri verso l'Essere Supremo, promulgate le leggi d'una patria nascente, istillate le massime della giustizia, dell'amistà, dell'amore coniugale, l'urbanità, la beneficenza, la compassione verso i loro simili, il coraggio militare.' Planelli, Dell'opera, 117–18; Degrada, ed., Dell'opera, 64–5.

36 As an employee of the ruling Bourbon family in Naples, Millico would not have openly expressed any dissenting political views in the 1780s. However, he may have been secretly sympathetic to the radical cause: there is a sketch from 1794 that depicts Millico with Francesco Saverio Salfi, a literato who would five years later become secretary of the revolutionary Parthenopean (Neapolitan) Republic, along with two other men with known revolutionary leanings. All four, including Millico, are named and described by the artist as ‘Jacobins’. See Francesco Lapegna, ‘Una riunione dei giacobini napoletani nel 1794’, held in Naples's Museo di San Martino. The drawing is mentioned briefly in Di Benedetto, ‘Music and Enlightenment’, 151.

37 DelDonna, Opera, 13–42.

38 Act I, scenes 11–12, in Anon., Li tre Orfei (Venice, 1787). The Venice libretto does not list the composer, but we know from other productions that it was Marcello Bernardini (ossia di Capua). The work, or variations of it, was also performed in Florence, Padua, Pisa, Rome, Genoa and even Corfu during the same period, demonstrating how widely familiar this Orphic humour must have been. On the London Orphic competition between Millico and Gaetano Guadagni, who had created the role in Vienna in 1762, see Ian Woodfield, Opera and Drama in Eighteenth-Century London: The King's Theatre, Garrick and the Business of Performance (Cambridge, 2004), 50.

39 Count Carlo Gastone della Torre di Rezzonico, Alessandro e Timoteo, in Opere, ed. Francesco Mocchetti, 10 vols. (Como, 1815–30), III: 190–1. I use this reprint in order to provide page numbers, as the original libretto (Parma, 1782) is partially unpaginated. I translate ‘cetra’ and ‘cetera’ as ‘lyre’ rather than ‘kithara’ because they are often used interchangeably with ‘lira’ in poetic Settecento Italian. ‘Cetra’ adds a bit of Greek flavour to the poetry but does not appear to intentionally denote a different instrument. The Italian metaphor of the lyre as poetic inspiration goes back at least as far as Petrarch: ‘secca è la vena de l'usato ingegno / e la cetera mia rivolta in pianto’. Il canzoniere, CCXCII, ll. 13–14.

40 The 1783 review of Alessandro e Timoteo listed Bettinelli among Rezzonico's inspirations, while Rezzonico named Bettinelli as one of those most offended by contemporary opera seria's failings (along with Algarotti). See ‘Alessandro e Timoteo’ [review], Journal encyclopédique ou universel 11 (1 March 1783), 303–8; repr. in Gazzetta di Parma 14 (4 April 1783), 111–12, and 15 (11 April 1783), 118–20. See also Rezzonico, ‘Osservazioni intorno al dramma Alessandro e Timoteo’, in Opere, III: 282.

41 Aside from a short favola pastorale in 1773, only comic and semi-serious operas had been produced at the ducal theatre. See Vetro, Gaspare Nello, Il Teatro Ducale e la vita musicale a Parma: Dai Farnese a Maria Luigia (1687–1829) (Rome, 2010), 338ffGoogle Scholar.

42 ‘Timoteo eccitava i furori d'Alessandro col modo Frigio, e calmavali col modo Lidio.’ Rezzonico, Alessandro e Timoteo, 193. Millico briefly mentions this story in his preface as evidence of the emotional power of Greek music, but does so with approbation rather than censure. See Millico, [Preface], [4].

43 ‘I loro [Zeno and Metastasio] Drammi non sono veracemente e puramente lirici, bensì tragedie in musica … Perciò i Drammi ebbero titolo di lirici, quantunque assai male corrisponda quest'antica voce al moderno significato.’ Rezzonico, ‘Osservazioni’, 250, 262.

44 ‘Io non credo ch'egli potesse mai disapprovare l'impresa da me tentata d'avvicinarmi a’ Greci, e di spogliare di gran parte dell'inverisimiglianza la musica e l'azion teatrale.’ Rezzonico, ‘Osservazioni’, 249.

45 ‘La poesia, e la musica fossero in tal modo collegate, che per forza dovessero rispettarsi a vicenda, e non usurpare l'una i diritti dell'altra.’ Rezzonico, ‘Osservazioni’, 282.

46 ‘La seconda cagione si è il codice musico, ossiano le leggi che al poeta impongono i cantanti, omai divenuti Pisistrati della scena.’ Rezzonico, ‘Osservazioni’, 279. Emphasis in original. Pisistratus was a king of ancient Athens (c.6th cent. BCE–527 BCE) whose name was synonymous with tyranny. On the changes suggested by Sarti, see Giambattista Giovio, Della vita e degli scritti del cavaliere Carlo Castone conte della Torre di Rezzonico patrizio comasco, Memorie, in Rezzonico, Opere, I: lxxxiv, cited in Ferrero, Mercedes Viale, ‘“Potrà dirsi questo Dramma uno sforzo della Musica, e dell'arti italiane per agguaglirare i Greci”: Alessandro e Timoteo a Parma, 1782’, in La festa teatrale nel Settecento: Dalla corte di Vienna alle corti d'Italia, ed. Colturato, Annarita and Merlotti, Andrea (Lucca, 2011), 286Google Scholar.

47 ‘Ecco [i musici] adunque rovesciato tutto l'ordine dell'Opera, mentre il musico comanda al maestro di cappella, e questi al poeta.’ Rezzonico, ‘Osservazioni’, 281.

48 Feldman, The Castrato, passim. These associations were hardly rigid, however widespread.

49 ‘Erasi adunque figurato in mia mente un teatro sul teatro stesso … Ne feci Timoteo direttore, ed inventor principale.’ Rezzonico, ‘Osservazioni’, 286–7. While the scenographer Pietro Gonzaga's original designs for Alessandro e Timoteo are missing, some of his surviving illustrations offer an idea of what his designs for the production may have looked like. In the description for scene 1, Rezzonico explains how the theatre-of-theatre concept works onstage: ‘Il fondo della tenda s'innalza nelle mutazioni di Scena, e lascia vedere gli oggetti, che le stan dietro.’ Note that Alessandro e Timoteo is not divided into acts, only scenes.

50 Klaits, Joseph, Printed Propaganda under Louis XIV: Absolute Monarchy and Public Opinion (Princeton, 1976), 13Google Scholar.

51 Rezzonico, ‘Osservazioni’, 247–8.

52 Christoph Willibald Gluck and Ranieri de’ Calzabigi, L'atto d'Orfeo, score, I-PAc, Corradi Cervi Ms.M.C.C.20. I have translated ‘lusinghi’ as ‘flatter’, based on the valence of Rezzonico's word ‘lusinghe’ in his ‘Osservazioni’ (see below, note 53). Rezzonico, Alessandro e Timoteo, 215. Footnote (b) in the libretto, which appears attached to Timoteo's invocation, reads: ‘L'orchestra imita il suono d'una cetera pizzicata.’ The choice of accompaniment very possibly came from Rezzonico himself, as the libretto explains that the orchestra is imitating a lyre so that even those reading it as poetry, without seeing the opera, could grasp the reference.

53 ‘Una poesia piena di sentimento, e di lusinghe, nella cui espressione trionfa la moderna musica.’ Rezzonico, ‘Osservazioni’, 289.

54 Note that other manuscript copies of the score (e.g., I-Nc, 31.3.16) show the distribution of pizzicato and col arco parts among the strings somewhat differently. In all copies consulted, however, the first violins and bass are always marked pizzicato, and some combination of the other string parts are marked col arco.

55 ‘Radi [rari] sono i Cantori, o Suonatori, che sentano, e faccian sentir l'estro della lor arte, e dell'anima loro. Oltre al dover anch'essi recitar di memoria, e suonare, e cantar su la carta, v'ha l'impedimento primario dell'essere prezzolati … Il certo è, ch'ella [Musica] fu sempre unita alla Poesia tra gli antichi, e noi la vediamo fedele compagna de’ nostri Improvvisatori, ancella, ed amica di qualche Tragedia a cori, Signora poi, e forse tiranna dei Drammi.’ Bettinelli, Dell'entusiasmo, 54–5.

56 ‘Spesso avviene, che gli amanti di Musica sentendosi pur commossi da tal piacere, piacer sensuale d'orecchio, credansi appassionati nell'animo, e lodino l'arte senza conoscerla, e l'artefice senza ragione.’ Bettinelli, Dell'entusiasmo, 56.

57 ‘La cui [di Timoteo] musica diceva essere effemminata per lusingar l'orecchio, e notavane i suoni moltiplici, cioè trilli sopra una sillaba o una vocale, l'adattar piccole arie a piccole parole, il collocar il bello nell'ornato, la forza nell'artifizio, traendo così la tragedia al basso sino a lui non sapendo alzarsi egli sino alla dignità di lei [Elettra] … Voi qui credete udir la critica delle nostre Opere, che son tragedie così trasformate, e credo che tal trasformazione l'avran detta in greco Metastasi.’ Bettinelli, , Lettere sui pregi delle donne, in Opere edite e inedite in prosa e in versi, 24 vols. (Venice, 1790–1801), XIII: 111Google Scholar.

58 Alessandro e Timoteo, scene 8.

59 ‘L'auteur étoit dans la loge de S. A. R., près de M. le comte du Nord, quand on chants le vers que nous venons de traduire ainsi; l'auguste voyageur ne put l'entendre sans la plus vive émotion; il dit au poëte: M. le comte de Rezzonico, faites graver cela en lettres d'or. A cette invitation mémorable, il ajouta des réflexions dignes d'Antonin ou de Marc-Aurele, sur le vanité, le néant des grandeurs humaines. Le duc de Parme témoigna aussi à l'auteur combien le même vers le touchoît. Mgr., répondit M. de Rezzonico, il y en a un autre que je crois mériter encore plus d’être appris par cœur par un prince comme vous. … Se la terra è felice, un nume io sono’. Italics in original. ‘Alessandro e Timoteo’ [review], 306.

60 Arteaga, Stefano, Rivoluzioni del teatro musicale italiano, 3 vols. (Venice, 1785 [1783]), III: 131–5Google Scholar.

61 See Bonora, Ettore, ‘L’ “entusiasmo delle belle arti” e Pietro Verri’, in Parini e altro Settecento: Fra classicismo e illuminismo (Milan, 1982), 180–94Google Scholar.

62 Cavarero, Adriana, For More Than One Voice: Toward a Philosophy of Vocal Expression, trans. Kottman, Paul A. (Stanford, 2005), 100–1Google Scholar.

63 See Esterhammer, Angela, ‘Was Homer an Improvvisatore?: Histories of Improvisation in Antiquarian Scholarship and Popular Culture’, in Romanticism and Improvisation, 1750–1850 (Cambridge, 2008), 5977Google Scholar. By the 1780s, this mode of performance was not exclusively connected to Homeric declamation. Saverio Mattei recited verses from his own Italian translations of the Psalms while accompanying himself on the psaltery, while his translation of Anacreon's Ode III, published in I libri poetici della Bibbia, was sung with harp accompaniment by none other than Millico. Verri may have known about the Neapolitan activities of Millico and Mattei, but either way, he was nonetheless possessed by the broader antiquarian fervour characteristic of late Settecento Italy. On Mattei's performing, see DelDonna, Opera, 31; Millico's Anacreontic performance is described in Francesco Saverio de’ Rogati, Le odi di Anacreonte e di Saffo recate in versi italiani (Colle, 1782), 16. On Verri's antiquarian neoclassicism, see (among many others) Favaro, Francesca, Alessandro Verri e l'antichità dissotterata (Ravenna, 1998)Google Scholar.

64 ‘Incominciò il citaredo Melanzio a cantare … rallegrandola con la melodiosa voce mista al suono della lira. Egli da prima spiegò il canto con moderato alito, come voce da lungi udita, e che gradatamente si avvicina; e quindi crescendo con piena melodia agitava le rapide note della lira, spandendo ampiamente il canto; verso di cui tutti con ciglio sospeso avean rivolti gli occhi in silenzo. Cantò Melanzio alcuni versi della Illiade, animando con l'armonia quel metro divino e quei celesti pensieri, onde riunito il doppio diletto, scendeva per le attente orecchie a impadronirsi del cuore.' Verri, Alessandro, Le avventure di Saffo, poetessa di Mitilene (Rome, 1809 [1782]), 155–6Google Scholar.

65 ‘Vedi quanto è maravigliosa la magnanimità degli Eroi Trojani e Greci, e non meno la bellezza de’ versi di Omero in decantarla, ed anche l'artificio del mio citaredo nell'animare con gli allettamenti della musica così pregevoli concetti: eppure nè gli Eroi, nè i Poeti, nè i Musici si formano con le scolastiche discipline.' Verri, Saffo, 156.

66 Verri, Saffo, 157.

67 Carteggio di Pietro e Alessandro Verri, A. Verri, letter of 22 February 1777, 246. Previously cited in the original Italian in Feldman, The Castrato, 352 n. 54.

68 Verri, A., Vicende memorabili dal 1789 al 1801, ed. Maggi, Giovanni Antonio (Milan, 1858), 520–1Google Scholar.

69 ‘Gli disse Rousseau che, se il Tasso lo avesse inteso, avrebbe fatto per lui un nuovo poema.' A. Verri, letter of 22 February 1777, 246. I suspect that Millico sang for Rousseau an excerpt from his cantata La morte di Clorinda, scored for soprano and strings, which sets Canto XII, stanza 69 of La Gerusalemme liberata (incipit ‘D'un bel pallor ha il bianco volto asperso’). There are no published scores, but the two extant manuscript copies are held at I-MC (4-A-10/4) and D-MÜs (SANT Hs 2685).

70 Both Pietro and Alessandro Verri frequently cited Tasso as the exemplar of Italian vernacular literary genius. See, for one, Verri, Pietro, ‘Della economia politica’, in Opere filosofiche di Pietro Verri, 2 vols. (Pavia, 1803), I: 207Google Scholar.

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