Manchester, 14th-18th July 2004


Metoda Kokole (The Scientific Research Centre
Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Slovenia)

Diffusion and circulation of the 18th-century Italian opera between Gorizia, Trieste and Graz

Italian opera found its way to the Habsburg hereditary lands already in the 17th century – not only to the imperial centre, Vienna, but also to provincial urban centres. However, it was not until permanent theatres were built that regular operatic productions started in Gorizia (Görz), Trieste, Ljubljana (Laibach), Klagenfurt and Graz. The proposed paper will survey the operatic repertoire, based on preserved libretti and other sources, focusing especially on the situation in Gorizia, which had for obvious geographical reasons the largest natural public for Italian opera. Gorizia’s situation will be compared to that of Udine, then under Venetian suzerainty, and the Habsburg free port of Trieste. The documents show, however, that in the 1740s Italian theatre was brought in to Gorizia from Klagenfurt and Graz, which in their turn kept close contact with Ljubljana.

In general, the operatic repertoire produced in the 18th century in Gorizia directly reflected Venetian developments, since operas were given immediately or with a delay of only a year or two after the respective premieres in Venice. More than eighty opere serie (Hasse, Maggiore, Orlandini), comic intermezzi (Neapolitan masters) and, after 1764, above all opere buffe or semi-serie (Galuppi, Anfossi, Gazzaniga, Paisiello, Cimarosa, etc.) are recorded as being produced at the Bandeu theatre. Even though the presence of Italian opera within the Inner-Austrian lands is relatively copiously documented, the social and cultural aspects of this phenomenon, especially with regard to the circulation of impresarios and singers, was never closely studied and may therefore prove to be interesting also for the purposes of a broader investigation into migration of Italian opera to the North.

Last updated on 09 May 2004