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Francesco Cavalli

Francesco Cavalli

Francesco Cavalli (14 February 1602 – 14 January 1676) was an Italian composer of the early Baroque period. His real name was Pietro Francesco Caletti-Bruni, but he is better known by that of Cavalli, the name of his patron Federico Cavalli, a Venetian nobleman.


  • Life 1
  • Music and influence 2
  • Performance history 3
    • Modern performances 3.1
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Cavalli was born at maestro di cappella. He is chiefly remembered for his operas. He began to write for the stage in 1639 (Le nozze di Teti e di Peleo) soon after the first public opera house opened in Venice, the Teatro San Cassiano. He established so great a reputation that he was summoned to Paris from 1660 (he revived his opera Xerse) until 1662, producing his Ercole amante. He died in Venice at the age of 73.

Music and influence

Cavalli was the most influential composer in the rising genre of public opera in mid-17th-century Venice. Unlike Monteverdi's early operas, scored for the extravagant court orchestra of Mantua, Cavalli's operas make use of a small orchestra of strings and basso continuo to meet the limitations of public opera houses.

Cavalli introduced melodious arias into his music and popular types into his libretti. His operas have a remarkably strong sense of dramatic effect as well as a great musical facility, and a grotesque humour which was characteristic of Italian grand opera down to the death of Alessandro Scarlatti. Cavalli's operas provide the only example of a continuous musical development of a single composer in a single genre from the early to the late 17th century in Venice — only a few operas by others (e.g., Monteverdi and Antonio Cesti) survive. The development is particularly interesting to scholars because opera was still quite a new medium when Cavalli began working, and had matured into a popular public spectacle by the end of his career.

Cavalli wrote forty-one operas, twenty-seven of which are still extant, being preserved in the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (Library of St Mark) in Venice. Copies of some of the operas also exist in other locations. In addition, two last operas (Coriolano and Masenzio), which are clearly attributed to him, are lost, as well as twelve other operas that have been attributed to him, though the music is lost and attribution impossible to prove.

In addition to operas, Cavalli wrote settings of the Magnificat in the grand Venetian polychoral style, settings of the Marian antiphons, other sacred music in a more conservative manner – notably a Requiem Mass in eight parts (SSAATTBB), probably intended for his own funeral – and some instrumental music.[1]

Performance history

Title Libretto Première date Place, theatre Notes
NozzeLe nozze di Teti e di Peleo Orazio Persiani 24 January 1639 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
AmoriGli amori d'Apollo e di Dafne Giovanni Francesco Busenello 1640 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
DidoneLa Didone Giovanni Francesco Busenello 1641 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
AmoreL'amore innamorato Giovanni Battista Fusconi 1 January 1642 Venice, Teatro San Moisè lost
NarcisoNarciso et Ecco immortalati Orazio Persiani 30 January 1642 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo lost
VirtuLa virtù dei strali d'Amore Giovanni Faustini 1642 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
EgistoL'Egisto Giovanni Faustini autumn 1643 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
DeidamiaLa Deidamia Scipione Herrico 5 January 1644 Venice, Teatro Novissimo lost
OrmindoL'Ormindo Giovanni Faustini 1644 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
RomoloIl Romolo e 'l Remo Giulio Strozzi 1645 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo lost
DoricleaLa Doriclea Giovanni Faustini 1645 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
TitoneIl Titone Giovanni Faustini 1645 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano lost
ProsperitaLa prosperità infelice di Giulio Cesare dittatore Giovanni Francesco Busenello 1646 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo lost
TorildaLa Torilda Pietro Paolo Bissari 1648 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo or Teatro San Cassiano lost
GiasoneIl Giasone Giacinto Andrea Cicognini 5 January 1649 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
EuripoL'Euripo Giovanni Faustini 1649 Venice, Teatro San Moise lost
OrimonteL'Orimonte Nicolò Minato 23 February 1650 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano  
BradamanteLa Bradamante Pietro Paolo Bissari 1650 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo lost
ArmidoroL'Armidoro Bortolo Castoreo 20 January 1651 Venice, Teatro Sant 'Apollinare lost
OristeoL'Oristeo Giovanni Faustini 9 February 1651 Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare  
RosindaLa Rosinda Giovanni Faustini 1651 Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare also known as Le magie amorose
CalistoLa Calisto Giovanni Faustini 28 November 1651 Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare  
EritreaL'Eritrea Giovanni Faustini 17 January 1652 Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare  
VeremondaLa Veremonda, l'amazzone di Aragona Giacinto Andrea Cicognini and Giulio Strozzi 21 December 1652 Naples, Nuovo Teatro del Palazzo Reale also known as Il Delio
OrioneL'Orione Francesco Melosio June 1653 Milan, Teatro Real  
XerseIl Xerse Nicolò Minato 12 January 1654 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo  
CiroIl Ciro Giulio Cesare Sorrentino 30 January 1654 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo in collaboration with Andrea Mattioli
ErismenaL'Erismena Aurelio Aureli 30 December 1655 Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare  
StatiraStatira principessa di Persia Giovanni Francesco Busenello 18 January 1656 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo  
ArtemisiaL'Artemisia Nicolò Minato 10 January 1657 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo  
HipermestraL'Hipermestra Giovanni Andrea Moniglia 12 June 1658 Florence, Teatro degli Immobili  
AntiocoL'Antioco Nicolò Minato 12 January 1659 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano lost
ElenaIl rapimento d'Helena Giovanni Faustini and Nicolò Minato 26 December 1659 Venice, Teatro San Cassiano also known as Elena
PazziaLa pazzia in trono, ossia il Caligola delirante Domenico Gisberti 1660 Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare lost
ErcoleErcole amante Francesco Buti 7 February 1662 Paris, at the Salles des Machines in the Tuileries Palace Ballet music by Jean-Baptiste Lully
ScipioneScipione affricano Nicolò Minato 9 February 1664 Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo  
MutioMuzio Scevola Giovanni Faustini and Nicolò Minato 26 January 1665 Venice, Teatro San Samuele  
PompeoPompeo Magno Nicolò Minato 20 February 1666 Venice, Teatro San Salvatore  
EliogabaloEliogabalo Aurelio Aureli composed 1667, premiered 1668 Venice, Teatro San Salvatore  
CoriolanoCoriolano Cristoforo Ivanovich 27 May 1669 Piacenza, Teatro Ducale lost
MasenzioMasenzio Giacomo Francesco Bussani composed 1673 unperformed and lost

Modern performances

Cavalli's music was revived in the twentieth century. The Glyndebourne production of La Calisto is an example.[2] The discography is extensive and Cavalli has featured in BBC Radio 3's Composer of the Week series.[1]

See also



  1. ^ a b "Composer of the Week". Retrieved August 5, 2012. 
  2. ^ Ross, Alex, "Unsung: Rediscovering the Operas of Francesco Cavalli." The New Yorker, May 25, 2009, pp. 84–85.

Further reading

  • Bukofzer, Manfred, Music in the Baroque Era. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1947. ISBN 0-393-09745-5
  • Glixon, Beth L. and Jonathan E., Inventing the Business of Opera: The Impresario and His World in Seventeenth-Century Venice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-19-515416-9
  • Glover, Jane, Cavalli. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1978. ISBN 0-312-12546-1
  • Rosand, Ellen, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice. Berkeley:University of California Press, 1991. ISBN 0-520-06808-4
  • Selfridge-Field, Eleanor, Venetian Instrumental Music, from Gabrieli to Vivaldi. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. ISBN 0-486-28151-5

External links

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