Manchester, 14th-18th July 2004


Christian Speck (Universitšt Koblenz-Landau, Germany)

"Fu cantato un poemetto graziosissimo": new light on the rise of the oratorio volgare in Rome

It is a widespread opinion, that the oratorio, coming from Roman antecedents, had developed by the mid-17th century and that the rise of the oratorio volgare is primarely connected with the practice of oratorio-music at the oratory of the church Santa Maria in Vallicella at Rome. But an examination of sources from about 1625-1630, like oratorio-librettos by Giovanni Ciampoli, Ottavio Tronsarelli and Giulio Rospigliosi, respectively oratorio music by Kapsberger, shed new light to the dark early history of the genre. Those men have written oratories rather different in conception from the type of Anerio's "Teatro" as well as the mid-century type at the Vallicella. There have been oratorios written for festivities at Roman palaces from about 1625 on, and these works seem to have had an important influence on the oratorio-music at Roman churches and oratories. The new thesis shall be presented, that the emergence of the oratorio volgare in Rome is essentially to be seen in the context of the artistic-religious program of the early Pope Urban VIII. (1623-1644). There is evidence for the fact, that Urban has seen in the oratorio a similar new instrument of combining sacred poetical art and self-representation as some years later, from 1631 on, in the Rospigliosi-operas performed by the Barberinis.

Last updated on 10 May 2004