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Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

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Volume 20 (2014) No. 1

Published 2017

The Ruined Bridge: Studies in Barberini Patronage of Music and Spectacle 1631–1679. By Frederick Hammond. Sterling Heights, Mich.: Harmonie Park Press, 2010. [xix, 303 pp. ISBN 0-899-90151-4; ISBN 978-0-899-90151-0. Paperback, $40.00.]

Reviewed by Virginia Christy Lamothe*

1. Introduction

2. Neglected Sources Brought to Light

3. New Interpretations

4. The Business of Roman Opera

5. Connections to Recent Scholarship

6. Conclusions

References

1. Introduction

1.1 Frederick Hammond’s The Ruined Bridge chronicles aspects of dramatic and musical patronage of the Barberini family during and immediately following the reign of Pope Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini, r. 1623–44). The musical events Hammond describes were presented both in Rome and elsewhere in Italy. All the spectacles performed, from chivalric “horse ballet” pageants to funerary services, represent political agendas during a time of war and religious reformation from 1631 to 1679; Hammond approaches these events as a collective form involving music, drama, sculpture, costume, dance, and pageantry, all understood as a coherent symbolic language. This book presents an invaluable resource for scholars of Barberini patronage in music as well as other art forms. It makes great use of an abundance of surviving archival materials, including librettos and musical manuscripts, and it also traces the process of a spectacle performance from its first conception from the patron to the corago (director) to the performers and audiences present at its performance. Anyone interested in the methods of creating a musical-dramatic spectacle in the seventeenth century would benefit from studying this work.

1.2 Most of the chapters presented have been published elsewhere, although it is beneficial that they are all contained in this one volume since many of the earlier publications were in specialized publications.[1] Only the chapters “Le pretensioni del Tebro e dal Po: Ferrara Entertains Don Taddeo Barberini,” “La maschera trionfante: Don Taddeo Barberini Entertains His Brother Cardinal Antonio,” and “Barberini Redux: The Return to Rome and the Pamphilj Wedding” are previously unpublished.

1.3 Hammond’s focus in this book is not the patronage of the pope himself, but rather, of his three nephews, Cardinals Francesco (1597–1679) and Antonio Barberini (1607–71) and Don Taddeo Barberini (1603–47), Prince of Palestrina and commander of the papal armies. Most important was Cardinal Francesco Barberini, the acting nipote and vice-chancellor of the Church, who emerged as the greatest patron of Roman opera in the mid-seventeenth century, alongside his younger brother, Antonio. Whereas Hammond’s first book on Barberini patronage, Music and Spectacle in Baroque Rome (1994), focuses on the sponsorship of musical events during the Carnival season, including the celebrations following the crowning of Ferdinand III in 1636 as the Holy Roman Emperor and the birth of the dauphin in September of 1638, his focus in this new book is on other events during and after those years of patronage: he outlines five celebrated occasions that occurred during the pontificate of Urban VIII and four after his death in 1644. These celebrations parallel a number of major political and religious hardships faced by the Barberini. Hammond then includes an “epilogue” of funerary services and their music from the time of the death of Urban VIII in 1644 to that of Cardinal Francesco Barberini in 1679.

1.4 As in his first book on Barberini patronage, Hammond’s method of historical anthropology seeks to create a type of “thick description,” an idea originating from Clifford Geertz, best known in his seminal work The Interpretation of Cultures (1973). Hammond does this by putting the musical and dramatic spectacles of Rome in the mid-seventeenth century in their political, social, religious, and economic contexts. In doing so, he spares no detail in the accounts of the performances while at the same time providing ample discussion of contemporary political events that would have affected the Barberini family members and their efforts as patrons. But while Music and Spectacle in Baroque Rome celebrates these dramatis personae, The Ruined Bridge is presented as a “coda in a minor key,” which outlines the vicissitudes of the Barberinis, including the public repercussions of the papacy’s condemnation of Galileo Galilei in 1634, the taxing and wholly unpopular War of Castro (1641–44), and the succession of Pope Innocent X (Pamphilj) and subsequent exile of the Barberini nephews to France in 1645. As mentioned earlier, many of the chapters in this book appeared previously, and although Hammond states in his introduction that they have been revised to take advantage of continuing scholarship and reworked to fit their new context, his writing does not fully achieve either of these ends. The format of the book still reads as if it were a set of nine essays rather than a coherent whole. This can be distracting at times, such as when events like the War of Castro are defined in one chapter early in the book, and then again later in the book. Some of the newer, previously unpublished chapters also contain a few typographical errors, which distract from Hammond’s conclusions. But the book also offers details often neglected in other Barberini scholarship. These include chapters about the Barberinis’ fall from and then return to fortune, and the arrival of the convert Queen Christina in Rome in 1656. It also contains a number of useful appendices giving the full text of archival sources and commentary by Hammond.

2. Neglected Sources Brought to Light

2.1 Hammond’s greatest strength in this work is the painstaking attention to detail that he gives in recounting information culled from archival documents. He begins by relating an account of the chivalric tournament La contesa given in Ferrara in 1631 found in two related manuscripts from the Archivio Compagnoni Floriani in Macerata; many of the descriptions included here are previously unpublished. He then compares the surviving materials of these manuscripts with an early print of the event, the Prospetto della scena of La contesa, alongside firsthand accounts of the poet Francesco Berni (1610–1673) and the great designer of stage sets and machinery, Francesco Guitti (1605–1640).

2.2 Several of the chapters, namely, “The Prince’s Hat,” “Le pretensioni del Tebro e del Po,” “Orpheus in a New Key,” “Barberini Triumphans,” and “‘Thy hand, great Anarch…’” contain long appendices detailing archival sources for musical and dramatic spectacles that have been previously neglected. In “The Prince’s Hat” Hammond gives a commentary on excerpts from the printed program for Don Taddeo’s crowning as Prince Prefect in order to discuss a number of significant points, from the symbolic meanings behind the vestments worn to the descriptions of the music that was sung as part of the ceremony. In both instances Hammond contextualizes the excerpts by means of contemporaneous documentary evidence: he bolsters these descriptions of the music with excerpts from the Diarii of the Cappella Sistina, and he draws conclusions about the symbolic meanings after first taking into account the writings of contemporary Roman diarist Paulo Alaleona and Urban VIII’s own biographer, Andrea Nicoletti. Hammond includes a long appendix to this chapter with transcriptions of the original documents.

2.3 Similarly, a discussion of the spectacle Le pretensioni del Tebro e del Po (Chapter 4) is made complete with archival documents held in the Archivio Storico of Ferrara along with contemporary descriptions, including an account by Agostino Faustini (p.108), as well as annotations found in the one surviving musical score by Marco Marazzoli (pp. 109, 113). Hammond then presents the dedications printed in the libretto for the occasion by Francesco Berni (1610–73) alongside Berni’s own account of the spectacle, commissioned by Enzo Bentivoglio and dedicated to Taddeo Barberini (p. 112). At the end of this chapter, Hammond provides a “conflation” of Marazzoli’s manuscript text and the printed libretto in a sort of critical edition (pp. 127–39).

2.4 Hammond’s sixth chapter, which describes the performances of Luigi Rossi and Francesco Buti’s L’Orfeo in Paris in 1647, is perhaps the jewel of this collection. It stands as an archivist’s treasure trove of excerpts from documents that relate two parallel and interconnected stories: the flight of the Barberini from Rome and the first operas to be presented in Paris under the hand of Cardinal Mazarin. As would be expected, Hammond first outlines the creation of the work by examining and providing excerpts from payment records related to this production (pp. 166–67). Most importantly, he provides excerpts of Ms. Barb. Lat. 4059, the surviving relazione for Orfeo, which provides a virtually complete list of the opera’s performers, whose names were previously not known for certain (pp. 170–78). He then compares the descriptions of this account with those given in the only surviving score for this work, a manuscript found in the Chigi collection (Chigi Qu. V. 58) and the only other surviving source for the full opera, a manuscript libretto from the Barberini collection, Barb. Lat. 3803. The plot outlined in the Chigi score differs from that of the Barberini libretto, but Hammond’s translation and interpretation of the Barberini relazione shed new light on these differences according to how the first production of this opera may have been performed. Interspersed among these citations are comments on the work given by Claude-François Ménestrier in his Des Représentations en musique anciennes et modernes (Paris, 1681). Hammond also compares these descriptions with a manuscript found at the Kassel Landesbibliothek (Ms. fol. 61) which contains an instrumental “fantaisie,” Les Pleurs d’Orphée ayant perdu sa femme, in order to comment on the possible use of violins in the original production since the Chigi score only provides the bass line. In addition, Hammond mentions the existence of a 1647 French synopsis of Orfeo in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, a source he was unable to examine. An extensive appendix, similar to the one provided in Chapter 4, gives the transcribed text of these documents (pp. 182–89).

2.5 Similarly, in Chapter 8 Hammond makes use of payment records, avvisi, and printed argomenti to present a fuller picture of the productions of La vita humana, Dal male il bene, Le armi e gli amori, and La giostra delle caroselle, all performed in 1656 for Queen Christina of Sweden’s arrival in Rome following her conversion to Catholicism. An appendix provides excerpts from the accounts of Don Maffeo Barberini for the 1656 festivities (p. 243). Hammond shows that these three events were intended not only as a greeting to the queen, but also as a notice of caution that she was now under the authority of Papal Rome.

2.6 Hammond’s last chapter, which focuses on Barberini funerals, also provides a great deal of archival information. He first organizes the chapter chronologically, beginning with the death of Pope Urban VIII in 1644 and ending with the death of Cardinal Francesco Barberini in 1679. He then arranges the second half of the chapter as a type of a “handbook/appendix of funerary commemorations” much like the chapter on Barberini celebrations found in his first book on Barberini patronage, Music and Spectacle in Baroque Rome. Here, Hammond classifies the sources by type into sixteen categories of archival sources related to the funerary commemorations, including firsthand accounts in letters and avvisi, payment records, diaries of the Cappella Sistina, extensive descriptions of diarists such as Giancinto Gigli, and musical prints and manuscripts (pp. 275–86).[2]

2.7 In addition to several facsimiles of scores and documents, there are numerous illustrations, over seventy of them, which complement his descriptions, including many found in early prints of musical scores and memorials from the early seventeenth century to the turn of the eighteenth. Hammond has also included engravings of choreographed dances, costumes, portraits of musicians, and even funerary catafalques that strongly support his arguments.

3. New Interpretations

3.1 Frederick Hammond provides the reader with new points of view on Barberini patronage in his discussion of the symbolic meanings contained in the programs to operas commissioned by or written for the Barberini family, especially in Luigi Rossi and Francesco Buti’s L’Orfeo, performed in Paris in 1647 during the Barberinis’ time there during their exile from Rome. Most scholars of opera are familiar with the Orpheus myth as contained in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, but other sources would also have been familiar to seventeenth-century audiences. Most significantly, the fourth book of Virgil’s Georgics begins its account of Orpheus with a fuller account of the story, that of Aristaeus, the keeper of flocks and father of beekeeping. In this version of the myth, Aristaeus chases Eurydice, who, in spurning his advances, is bitten by a serpent and dies. In his anger, Orpheus causes Aristeus’s bees to sicken and die. In the end, Aristaeus learns that, like Orpheus and his lost Eurydice, he must make amends in order for the bees to return. In relating the plot of the opera in his chapter “Orpheus in a New Key,” Hammond points out that the surviving librettos do not always agree with the texts found in the surviving score, suggesting reworking on Buti’s part. Hammond proposes that Buti may have taken both ancient stories of Orpheus into account in order to pay homage not only to Cardinal Mazarin and the French crown, but also to members of the Barberini family who were in the audience: most theatrical treatments of the Orpheus myth do not include the story of Aristaeus, but as the symbol of the Barberini family, the story of the bees’ return had important symbolic meaning. (pp. 180–81). The suggestions in Hammond’s chapter may be subtle, but for the Barberini scholar, the consequences of finding such references in the score or the libretti are enticingly dripping in honey.

3.2 The illustrations Hammond presents in this book are not merely decorative additions, for they often serve as the foundation for some of his most important conclusions. One example can be found in Chapter 8, where he focuses on the messages inherent in La vita humana and how they relate to G. B. Galestruzzi’s engravings of scenes from the opera found in the printed score of 1658. La vita humana was performed in honor of Queen Christina of Sweden’s arrival in Rome during Carnival of 1656. On the one hand, the papacy regarded the queen as a prized figure as a result of her conversion to Catholicism, planning entertainments appropriate for a visiting dignitary of her rank.  On the other hand, for Pope Alexander VII, Queen Christina was a cause for concern with her reputation of willful personality and masculine habits and dress, which she herself admitted to be “Amazonian.” The characters of the opera, Innocence, Pleasure, Understanding, and Human Life, enact a moral tale addressed to the headstrong queen. Galestruzzi’s engravings guide us through the telling of this moral, but not if the figures in these engravings are misunderstood. Hammond argues that the “program” previously presented by historian Per Bjurstöm and musicologist Wolfgang Witzenmann errs due to misidentification of the figures in the engravings, and that the true meanings of the opera were unclear in that the allegorical figures were often mistaken for one another and did not accurately line up with the plot of the opera (p. 228).[3] Hammond corrects the mistakes of the previous scholars by comparing the figures to the suggestions given in the libretto and to engravings of other Barberini operas. With the engravings of the allegorical figures read correctly by Hammond, the plot and the moral of the opera are now made clear. According to Hammond, Christina is meant to identify with the character of Human Life, who is depicted as female and frail. She is buffeted about by forces around her over which she has no control. She must rely on male Understanding in order to flee Pleasure and attain Innocence. Hammond identifies Innocence as uniquely Roman because of the armor and plumed helmet he is shown wearing in the engraving, strikingly similar to the figure of Rome found in the engravings of the 1634 printed score of Il Sant’Alessio, the first opera presented by the Barberini court that focused on the life of a Roman saint, performed in 1632 and again in 1634.

3.3 Hammond also questions previously held notions that the opera Dal male il bene was composed in honor of the 1653 wedding of Maffeo Barberini (the younger) and Olimpia Giustiniani, the niece of Pope Innocent X (Giovanni Battista Pamphilj). This idea had come from the title page of the printed score of 1654, which bears heraldic symbols of both families, the Pamphilj dove and the Barberini bees, a common occurrence in musical works for wedding celebrations.[4] The opera’s first performance during the Carnival season of 1654 rather than at the time of the wedding has left many scholars unsettled on the subject. Margaret Murata especially questions the purpose and date of this work and transcribes a letter by the opera’s librettist, Giulio Rospigliosi, dated February 14, 1654, which mentions its performance that year.[5] Hammond focuses on Rospigliosi’s assertion that it was a few days before Christmas 1653, and not before the June 1653 wedding, that the couple asked for a new “Spanish” comedy titled Dal male il bene, proving that the opera was, in fact, written after the time of the wedding in 1653 (p. 230).

4. The Business of Roman Opera

4.1 Many times throughout this book Hammond reminds the reader that the business of performing musical spectacles was a complicated one. Musicians had to be borrowed from multiple households, not just in joyous times of weddings which would ally those ruling families, but also in times of war, which put them at odds with one another (p. 167). He also cautions that the patron him or herself was not always responsible for payment of the participants in a musical spectacle. In the case of La giostra delle caroselle of 1656, the participants themselves would have paid to enter the pageant and would have furnished their own costumes, decorative tack, and feathered headdresses; it was to the advantage of the participants to flaunt themselves on behalf of the patron to his audience, and not the other way around (p. 235). Hammond’s investigation of these documents is so precise that he can detail the creation of these works from the patron’s inception all the way through the payments to the composer, librettist, and musicians and more, right down to the craftsmen engaged to sew dance slippers for the performers.

4.2 Another strength which makes this book stand out is Hammond’s descriptions of musical and dramatic genres that are often neglected in scholarship. He draws connections between celebratory music for military and academic occasions and those for entertainment, dispelling anachronistic assumptions often made today when we separate these categories in our historical examinations. This is best seen in his descriptions of the often overlooked genre of the “opera-torneo” that Hammond painstakingly defines and describes in his first chapter, which focuses on La contesa of 1631. He does the same in explaining the pageantry and program behind the La giostra of 1656. He frequently draws connections between musical genres, for example in his comparisons of sacred music used for special ceremonies such as the crowning of Don Taddeo Barberini as Prince Prefect or the installation of one of the Barberini nephews as cardinal, to the music that would later be used in their funerals in the second half of the seventeenth century, a connection that has not been made previously in studies of Barberini patronage.

4.3 Hammond’s book will also be of interest to scholars of seventeenth-century art, for his inclusion of illustrations and descriptions of documents does not end with those tied specifically to music spectacle. Throughout the book one can find comparisons between apparati for Quarantore celebrations and funerary monuments, seventeenth-century palaces and set designs. There is even an amusing account of Gian Lorenzo Bernini becoming so angry and envious of designer and fellow artist Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi’s sets that he sabotaged a performance of La vita humana by stopping up the pipes to a real, working fountain onstage and cutting the ropes to some of the sets (pp. 219–22).

4.4 Although in many cases Hammond provides copious archival documentation that explicates these musical spectacles, there are some instances where he could have delved even deeper to elucidate contemporary understanding of these works. In Chapter 8, for example, Hammond compares the spectacles performed for the arrival of Queen Christina of Sweden to those for the visit of Prince Alexander Charles of Poland roughly twenty years earlier. I believe he could go further in describing the motivations behind the similarities in the use of symbolic characters in both the 1634 production of Il Sant’Alessio and the 1656 production of La vita humana.[6]Hammond also describes the many fanciful combatants of the Giostra delle caroselle of 1656, which included appearances by Greek gods such as Hercules and Apollo alongside other characters, including choirs of musicians, squadrons of soldiers, and even a fire-breathing dragon. He then makes a quick reference to Hercules as a symbolic figure in the decorative program of the Palazzo Barberini, but he does not go any further other than to include a citation of John Beldon Scott’s Images of Nepotism: The Painted Ceilings of Palazzo Barberini (2001). I believe that there is more to be said here regarding this comparison, as well as other symbolic characters in Roman operas, who, like Hercules, represent a ruler’s choice between Virtue and Vice.

5. Connections to Recent Scholarship

5.1 Hammond’s approach to research in this book is interdisciplinary, making it an important work not only for music scholars, but those interested in other fields as well, and he draws on recent scholarship in many disciplines. He consults a number of sources which focus on a particular artist, including Giuseppe Adami’s monograph on the engineer Pietro Paolo Floriani, Patrizia Cavazzini’s edited volume on the painter Agostino Tassi, Jörg Martin Merz’s recent book on Pietro da Cortona, and Richard Wistreich’s recent work on Giulio Cesare Brancaccio.[7] He also looks at recent works on patronage and culture in seventeenth-century Rome, including the volume on the Barberini family and the seventeenth century edited by Lorenza Mochi Onori, Sebastian Schütz, and Francesco Salinas, as well as scholarship on Roman patronage by Claudio Costantini, Marcello Fagiolo dall’Arco, Fiorenza Rangoni Gàl, and Lilian H. Zirpolo.[8]

5.2 In some cases, however, he does not take into account the most current scholarship. The first example of this can be found in his discussions of the 1634 and 1635 spectacles, including the operas Il Sant’Alessio and Erminia sul giordano (p. 91). Hammond is correct in pointing out that these festivities may have had a program meant to dispel the “bad publicity” the Barberinis had attained at the height of the Galileo affair, but he fails to take into account the work of Maria Purciello on this very subject.[9]

5.3 Hammond also makes the very good suggestion in his discussion of La contesa (1631) that the choreography as described in the surviving reports, in conjunction with the engravings of the festivities, shows that this work may well have resembled the celebrations in the dance treatises of Fabritio Caroso or Cesare Negri (pp. 29–34). Unfortunately, Hammond does not expand his point beyond this suggestion. I believe that the works should be compared based on their purpose, rather than just their descriptions and structure. The author does the same in his discussion of Marco Marazzoli’s Le pretensioni del Tebro e del Po, where he states that this work shares many features with staged balletti (pp. 113–16). He even goes so far as to describe the demonic characters who dance, and he provides translations of firsthand accounts of the gilded torches which appeared to flame and the skirts worn by the dancers that glittered with silver like embers and ash. It would first have been appropriate to compare this dance to the one he describes from Il Sant’Alessio in his first book, where he also included an engraving in the 1634 score. Hammond could also have benefitted from my own recent work on the subject of Monteverdi’s Ballo delle ingrate, which includes similar choreography, moralizing song featured with the dance, and even costuming, as skirts were embroidered with flecks of gold.[10] One weakness of this book for musicologists is not the lack of music provided in this book (since, in many cases, none survives), but rather that where there are musical examples or references to specific pieces, particularly those sung by the Cappella Sistina, Hammond’s analysis of the textual significance far outweighs any analysis of the music itself. It is, however, very helpful that he provided modern transcriptions of some of the musical examples from a balletto from La contesa (pp. 42–45) and selections from Le pretension del Tebro e del Po (pp. 116–26).

6. Conclusions

6.1 Frederick Hammond’s choice of title for this work, The Ruined Bridge, is wholly appropriate, as it refers to a bridge found on the grounds of the Palazzo Barberini which purposely was made to look as if it was much older and in a state of ruin, thus inspiring the veneration of ruins by Romans and antiquarians of that age. Hammond creates a holistic approach to understanding the symbolic spectacles of the Barberini family that provides an appropriate sequel and ending to the story he began in Music and Spectacle in Baroque Rome. The Barberini nephews knew that their power was limited, but they suggested just the opposite in their musical and dramatic works. This book argues that music was central to the Barberini concept of promoting the power, legitimacy, and authority of the papacy and reigning family as the head of the Catholic faith, even in the face of scandal, war, and the eventual end of a dynasty.

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