Secrets of the Alla Moda Theater’ Success: the Historical and political subtext of the first musical drama by J. A. Hasse

Nataliia Sikorska


Relevance of the study. The field of musical performance, as probably the most sensitive to the relevance of ancient art, over the last century it communicates more and more closely with the antiquity of music. “Musical archeology” personalized in art critics and performers-historians actively studies the world’s musical heritage, revives on the modern stage authentic sounds in all the richness of their expression, variety of styles and forms. It is also important and justified to study the integral components of succeeding in the creation and execution of certain works, the recognition of creative personalities. It is hardly possible to find a better example in this direction than the musical theater of mature Baroque and gallant Rococo. But even in the then opera “industry” success (in the sense of mastering impeccable professional and artistic qualities, achieving a high level of demand, professional reputation, status, material well-being) was determined by a set of characteristics, among which integration into the historical context, social and political relations did not play the last role. Therefore, today it is necessary to apply a comprehensive approach to study the experience of highly professional, talented, active, and passionate artists of the late 17 — first third of the 18 century, to apply the tools hermeneutic analyze for reading their creative heritage.

Main objective(s) — to reveal the historical context in which work by J. A. Hasse was created, to comprehensively consider the musical and poetic texts of the serenata “Mark’Antonio and Cleopatra” for the successful implementation of its performing reconstruction and stage production in the approach of modern Historical informed performance.

Methodology based on an interdisciplinary approach at the intersection of musicology, theater studies, and historical science, using the cultural-historical method, the method of hermeneutic analysis of the text and the method of historical reconstruction, which allows us to consider the process of creating a musical-dramatic work in the unity of the subject, functional and historical aspects, expanded by in-depth analysis historical and political context.

Results/findings and Conclusions. An important component of successful creativity in the field of musical theater and, more broadly, the success of works of art — the response of the audience, the ability of a piece of art to evoke empathy, a sense of belonging, and personal involvement — has been investigated. Bearing in mind the exemplary historical experience of the development and spread of Italian opera, the art of the first third of the 18 cent. was chosen as the area of study of these issues. As an example, considered one of the first works of I. A. Hasse — the serenate “Mark Antonio and Cleopatra”, written and presented by him in Naples, in 1725.

The musical form of the serenata is analyzed, the stylistic and genre features of its elements, which determine the musical language of the young Saxon composer, are characterized. The libretto text is considered using the tools of hermeneutic content analysis.

The historical and political aspect of the life of the Kingdom of Naples in the late 17th — early 18 centuries is researched. Based on archival materials, information about the customer of the work by Carlo Carmignano and the librettist Francesco Ricciardo have been clarified. An attempt was made to the historical reconstruction of the circumstances of the composition, the details of the stage design of the performance, assumptions were made about the personalities of the audience present. The hidden content layer of a musical and dramatic work, born of its connection with the history of everyday life, cultural and political context, is discovered. The effectiveness of using the semantic potential of plots from the life of historical personalities is emphasized, their main property is revealed — the ability to allegorical personifications, symbolic artistic “gestures”, disguised similarities


historical performance; rococo opera; Galant style; historical reconstruction; French Ouverture; aria da Capo; recitative secco


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