ELEVENTH BIENNIAL INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BAROQUE MUSIC
Manchester, 14th-18th July 2004
Comparing dramaturgies: Siroe by Metastasio
After Metastasio’s first success with Didone in 1724, his second libretto Siroe undoubtedly consolidates his personal achievements. The dramaturgical concept permeating the structure of this opera, as well as the conflict of the characters enlivening the action, can be analysed in several ways.
This paper aims to point out at least two directions, complementary and intersected:
reading the drama with reference to Aristotle’s Poetics, reinterpreted by Metastasio himself in his Estratto dell’Arte poetica d’Aristotile e considerazioni sulla medesima, written in the last years of his life.
reading the drama as a Bildungsroman, during which dynamics of compression/relaxation affect the hero’s destiny.
In order to understand how Metastasio’s dramatic structures can be newly and differently read when set to music, it is interesting to put under a magnifying glass several scenes of the libretto in four different musical versions: Leonardo Vinci (Venice 1726: the première); Domenico Sarro (Naples 1727: this version was apparently represented under the poet’s direct supervision); Georg Friedrich Händel (London, 1727); Johann Adolph Hasse (Bologna, 1733; the composer’s wife, Faustina Bordoni, had sung in Händel’s opera in London).
Comparing four different dramaturgies, all related to the original one by Metastasio, allows us to infer that, beyond a common ground of stylistic conventions, there are many subtle differences as to the relation between the music and an apparently so ‘prescriptive’ text.
This paper derives from a research of Ph.D students (Daniele Carnini, Antonella D’Ovidio, Lisa Navach, Riccardo Pecci), within a seminar on Musical Dramaturgy organised by Professors Della Seta, Girardi and La Via, held in Spring 2003 at the Dipartimento di Scienze Musicologiche e Paleografico-Filologiche of Pavia University.
Last updated on 28 May 2004