Italian Opera in Central Europe
When opera emerged around 1600 in Italy as a new musico-dramatic genre, its development and dissemination was paralleled in many other countries. It was especially in Central Europe - the Holy Roman Empire, Poland, and adjacent regions - where Italian opera and the dramatic concept of the entirely sung drama gained a prominent position in musical life, in courtly and bourgeois culture, and in literary and musical thought. This process began as early as 1614 with the first performance of an Italian opera north of the Alps, while Italian opera as a Central European tradition saw its decline around 1780. The present volume illuminates this process from two new perspectives. Several, primarily historically-oriented case studies, centred on selected cities, courts and regions from Ljubljana to Hamburg and from Amsterdam to Warsaw, focus on the institution of Italian opera, its organisational principles, its mechanisms of establishment, and its cultivation and decline. Opera as a manifestation and implementation of social and cultural practices is reflected in the concept of ceremonies. Based upon the principal idea of 'opera as a mirror of ordered society', its facets range from the etiquette and rituals of the opera performance, to literary traditions, to the choice and treatment of operatic subject as an expression of social order and behaviour. Institutions and Ceremonies is the first of three volumes in the research project, "Italian Opera in Central Europe, 1614-c.1780", which is part of the programme Musical Life in Europe (1600-1900) launched by the European Science Foundation Humanities Programme in 1998 and concluded in 2002.