Shakespeare and Italy: Fenlon

Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University

Shakespeare and Italy:

Fenlon, Iain. Music and Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Mantua. Volume I: Text. Cambridge Studies in Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980.

– – -. Music and Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Mantua. Volume II: Scores. Cambridge Studies in Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

“One area in which music and the arts played an increasingly important role during the period was as an important aspect of despotic mythology, whose primary function was to provide traditional explanations of the nobility, antiquity, and political legitimacy of the dynasty, further encouraged by contemporary theories of magnificence and the tendency of an increasingly professional and bureaucratic court to generate ceremonial” (1).

Mantua enjoyed “a position of status in the early modern world that was further underlined by its association with Virgil, born in Mantuan territory in 70 B.C.” (10).

“Little is left of the decorations of her first grotta in the Castello di San Giorgio except for the barrel-vaulted ceiling, which is covered with repetitions of Isabella’s musical devisa consisting of an alto clef, the four mensuration signs, a symmetrical arrangement of rests, and a repetition sign. This was evidently one of her favourite devise, occurring elsewhere such as on the ceiling of the second grotto in the Corte Vecchia, on one of the walls in the same room, and on some pieces from a set of maiolica plates usually attributed to Nicolo Pellipario” (21).

“Isabella’s musical impresa has been variously interpreted. Scherliess … offers a résumé as well as the most convincing explanation” (21) — also Lehmann.

“Orlando di Lasso was apparently taken as a boy to Italy by Ferrante, where he spent some time in his [Ferrante Gonzaga 1507-1557] service before going to Naples in 1549” (32).

“The most far-reaching consequence of his literary and artistic tastes was the foundation and sponsorship of the Accademia degli Invaghiti, installed in the family palazzo in Mantua” (33).

“It may well have been through the court / that Ferrante met Marenzio, a composer whose contacts with Mantua stretched back over several decades, and who dedicated his eighth book of five-voice madrigals to him in 1598 in gratitude for unspecified favours” (34).

“[Giaches de] Wert’s precise movements between 1558 and 1565 when he took up permanent employment at the Mantuan court are unclear” (34).

“more influential, and particularly characteristic of the later academy movement, was the Accademia degli Invaghiti, founded in Nevember 1562 by Cesare Gonzaga of Guastalla, with an initial membership of thirty…. The society met in Cesare’s Mantuan palazzo…. [F]rom its inception the Invaghiti was typical of aristocratic and courtly academies in its emphasis on chivalric ceremonial and the arts of oratory and versification” (36).

“Versification, oratory, and learned disputations continued to form the staple fare throughout the patronage of Cesare (d. 1575) and were taken up again when the academy was reconstituted under his son, Ferrante, but theatrical productions were also sometimes given” (36).

“But more suggestive of musical interests among members of the Invaghiti is the emphasis upon threatre, and in addition to employing de’ Sommi the academy also included another local playwright, Massimo Faroni, whose comedies were quite often performed during the 1570s and 1580s” (37).

Invaghiti activities in letters to Cesare and Ferrante describing theatrical events: BCM MS 995 (1563-1599).

“it is possible that the ‘Signori Musici di Roma’ were a circle around Marenzio, since he had been known in Mantua since his visit of 1580 and may have lived and worked in the service of Guglielmo Gonzaga in the 1570s” (38).

“Federico’s artistic tastes were mostly confined to the construction and decoration of new palaces (notably the Palazzo del Te designed by Giulio Romano) and to the enlargement of the Palazzo Ducale” while Ferrante more into music but visited rarely (47).

Charles V visited Mantua in 1530 and proclaimed Federico first Duke of Mantua (49).

Jacquet of Mantua: Missa Ferdinandus dux Calabriae and Missa Hercules dux Ferrariae (74).

Visit of Henri III of France in 1574 (84).

“Marenzio had already spent some time in Gonzaga service, and if the Brescian historian Ottavio Rossi is correct in describing Giovanni Contino as Marenzio’s teacher that might help to explain the earlier association” (88).

“some composers were sending unpublished works in manuscript, suggesting that Guglielmo was being consulted in his capacity as a fellow-composer rather than simply being presented with the finished product as a patron or prospective employer” (89).

“Anonymity was most frequently reserved in music publication for works of aristocratic authorship; and these pieces can be identified as Guglielmo’s not only because of the opening setting of ‘Padre ch’el ciel’ is an elaboration of soggetti shared with the setting of the same text ascribed to him in Wert’s fourth book of 1567, but because the same model was used as the basis for two pieces published by Agnosti in his Le lagrime del peccatore of 1586, where he revealed the composer of the original” (94).

“Marenzio may well have had connections with Mantua during his early career and was certainly in contact with the court by 1581” (112).

“Lasso … made a short if unremarkable visit to Mantua in 1574. Seen as a whole the repertory performed at Santa Barbara during Guglielmo’s period is an inward-looking and to a large extent private and unpublished one, much of it reserved for exclusive use at the basilica in a way analogous to the jealously guarded repertory of the Ferrarese court concerto delle donne during the 1580s” (116).

“among the new arrivals was the young Claudio Monteverdi, who was probably established in the ducal service by 1590” (123).

Paccagnini. Il palazzo ducale.

Italian Bibliography