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Seeing the Empress Again On Doubling in L'incoronazione di Poppea

  • Magnus Tessing Schneider

This article presents a reading of Gian Francesco Busenello's and Claudio Monteverdi's opera L'incoronazione di Poppea in light of seventeenth-century theatrical practices. Reconstructing the doubling plan from the opera's premiere in 1643 on the basis of contemporary doubling practices and the correspondence of the Ferrarese music patron Marquess Cornelio Bentivoglio, the author argues, adducing circumstantial evidence, that Ottavia and Drusilla were conceived as a double role for the operatic quick-change artist Anna Renzi. While Renzi is known to have created Ottavia, this part is half the size of all other roles written for her, which invariably involve dramatic, emotional and musical variety to a much greater extent than does Monteverdi's tragic Empress. Renzi was admired for her command of both tragedy and comedy, and the essay develops the hypothesis of the double role as an intertextual interpenetration of the title heroines from the pseudo-Senecan tragedy Octavia and Girolamo Bargagli's sixteenth-century comedy La pellegrina.

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1 Ferrari, Benedetto, ‘Per la Signora Anna Renzi romana insigne cantatrice rappresentante Ottavia ripudiata, e comessa all'onde entr'uno schifo’, in Strozzi, Giulio, ed., Le glorie della signora Anna Renzi romana (Venice, 1644), 28.

2 Unless otherwise stated, translations in this article are the author's.

3 Much has been written on Anna Renzi. See especially Osthoff, Wolfgang, ‘Neue Beobachtungen zu Quellen und Geschichte von Monteverdis Incoronazione di Poppea’, Die Musikforschung, 11 (1958), 129–38; Sartori, Claudio, ‘La prima diva della lirica italiana: Anna Renzi’, Nuova rivista musicale italiana, 2 (1968), 430–52; Rosand, Ellen, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice: The Creation of a Genre (Berkeley, 1991); Glixon, Beth L., ‘Private Lives of Public Women: Prima Donnas in Mid-Seventeenth-Century Venice’, Music & Letters, 76 (1995), 509–31; Rosand, Ellen, Monteverdi's Last Operas: A Venetian Trilogy (Berkeley, 2007). Some of the arguments presented here are briefly discussed in ‘Forvandlingskunstneren Anna Renzi’, printed in the programme for my production of Poppea (Københavns Musikteater, Copenhagen, 2011) and in Custos, 9/1 (2011), 11–16.

4 Rosand, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice, 233.

5 Heller, Wendy, Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women's Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice (Princeton, 2003), 174.

6 Ibid., 175.

7 Ibid., 174–5. ‘Mostro’ is translated as follows in Florio, John, ed., Queen Anna's New World of Words, or Dictionarie of the Italian and English Tongues (London, 1611): ‘shewed, set to view, demonstrated, declared. Also a monster, or misshapen creature, any thing against the course of nature, a monstrous signe, a strange sight.’

8 Rosand, Last Operas, 242.

9 Osthoff suggests that he was Giovanni Battista Verdizotti. See Filiberto Laurenzis Musik zu La finta savia im Zusammenhang der frühvenezianischen Oper’, in Venezia e il melodramma nel Seicento, ed. Muraro, Maria Teresa (Florence, 1976), 173–97, here 177.

10 Rosand, Last Operas, 241.

11 G. B. V., ‘Per la Signora Anna Renzi romana unica Cantatrice nel Teatro dell'Illustrissimo Signor Giovanni Grimani’, in Strozzi, Le glorie, 30.

12 For a study of the emergence of the modern work-concept at the beginning of the nineteenth century, see Goehr, Lydia, The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music (Oxford, 1992).

13 Picchione, John, ‘Baroque Poetry in Italy: Deception, Illusion, and Epistemological Shifts’, in Boldt-Irons, Leslie Anne, Federici, Corrado and Virgulti, Ernesto, eds., Disguise, Deception, Trompe-L'œil: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (New York, 2009), 6170, here 62. On the rejection of verisimilitude by Venetian librettists, see Rosand, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice, 44–5.

14 Giulio Strozzi, ‘Anna Renzi romana: Elogio di Giulio Strozzi, tratto dal libro secondo de' suoi Elogii delle Donne virtuose del nostro secolo’, in Strozzi, Le glorie, 5–12, here 6.

15 Cf. Roach, Joseph R., The Player's Passion: Studies in the Science of Acting (London and Toronto, 1985), 52.

16 Ibid., 42.

17 Giulio Strozzi, La finta pazza, drama (Venice, 1641), Act III scene 2; my translation is based on Rosand, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice, 114, but the addition of ‘[and beautiful monsters]’ is my own.

18 Giacomo Torelli designed a number of productions starring Anna Renzi: La finta pazza, Il Bellerofonte, probably La Deidamia and possibly Ercole in Lidia. See Bjurström, Per, Giacomo Torelli and Baroque Stage Design (Stockholm, 1961).

19 [Bisaccioni, Maiolino], Il cannocchiale per la Finta pazza (Venice, 1641), 2021, 44–6; cited in Bjurström, Giacomo Torelli, 237–8.

20 Delle acutezze, che altrimenti spiriti, vivezze, e concetti volgarmente si appellano (Genoa, 1639); translated in Picchione, ‘Baroque Poetry in Italy’, 62.

21 Alan Curtis, preface to Monteverdi, Claudio, L'incoronazione di Poppea (London, 1989), xiiixiv.

22 Carter, Tim, Monteverdi's Musical Theatre (Yale, 2002), 104–8.

23 The sources for Nos. 1–3, 8 and 9 are the printed librettos: Ferrari, Benedetto, L'Andromeda (Venice, 1637); Ferrari, Benedetto, La maga fulminata, favola (Venice, 1638); Ferrari, Benedetto, Il pastor regio, dramma (Bologna, 1641): see Sartori, Claudio, ed., I libretti italiani a stampa dalle origini al 1800 (Cuneo, 1990–94), No. 18108; Aureli, Aurelio, Le fortune di Rodope e Damira, drama per musica (Venice, 1657); Piccoli, Francesco, L'incostanza trionfante, overo Il Theseo, drama per musica (Venice, 1658). The source for No. 4 is Giulio del Colle's description of the production: see Rosand, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice, 417–18. The remaining are drawn from contracts and one dispatch from the Mantuan resident: see Glixon, Beth L. and Glixon, Jonathan E., Inventing the Business of Opera: The Impresario and His World in Seventeenth-Century Venice (Oxford, 2008), 326–36.

24 See Bissari, Pietro Paolo, La Torilda, dramma per i moderni teatri (Venice, 1648), 114–16.

25 See e.g. Fotheringham, Richard, ‘The Doubling of Roles on the Jacobean Stage’, Theatre Research International, 10/1 (1985), 1832.

26 For examples of allegorical doubling in English sixteenth-century drama, see Burns, Edward, Character: Acting and Being on the Pre-Modern Stage (New York, 1990), 57–8, 122.

27 Antonio Bariletti, ‘Lo Stampatore a' Lettori’, in Ferrari, L'Andromeda, 5–12, here 7.

28 Ibid., 7.

29 Ibid., 11.

30 Ibid., 11.

31 Ibid., 12.

32 Antonio Bariletti, ‘Lo Stampatore a' Lettori’, in Ferrari, La maga fulminata, 5–10, here 7.

33 Ibid., 7.

34 Ibid., 9.

35 See Whenham, John, ‘Perspectives on the Chronology of the First Decade of Public Opera at Venice’, Il saggiatore musicale, 11 (2004), 253302, here 293.

36 Laurenzi, Filiberto, Musiche per La finta savia e Concerti et Arie, facsimile reprint (Florence, 2000).

37 Strozzi, Giulio, La finta savia, drama (Venice, 1643), 9. A facsimile of the libretto is found in Laurenzi, Musiche.

38 These are omitted in the Udine manuscript libretto, which has been published as Busenello, Gian Francesco, L'incoronazione di Poppea, Opera regia in tre atti, ed. Fabbri, Paolo, Libretti d'opera italiani dal Seicento al Novecento (Milan, 1997). On the close relation between the Udine libretto and the 1643 production, see Rosand, Last Operas, 62–3.

39 Strozzi, La finta savia, 185.

40 Curtis, Alan, ‘La Poppea Impasticciata, or Who Wrote the Music to L'Incoronazione (1643)?’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 42/1 (1989), 2354, here 42 n. 28.

41 Cited in Ziosi, Roberta, ‘I libretti di Ascanio Pio di Savoia: un esempio di teatro musicale a Ferrara nella prima metà del Seicento’, in Musica in torneo nell'Italia del Seicento, ed. Fabbri, Paolo (Lucca, 1999), 135–65, here 156.

42 Cf. Morelli, Arnaldo, ‘Una cantante del Seicento e le sue carte di musica: il Libro della signora Cecilia’, in Ehrmann-Herfort, Sabine and Engelhardt, Markus, eds, ‘Vanitatis fuga, aeternitatis amor’: Wolfgang Witzenmann zum 65. Geburtstag (Laaber, 2005), 307–27.

43 Cited in Ziosi, ‘I libretti’, 164.

44 Ibid., 152–3.

45 This would explain why two of the manuscript librettos that apparently predate the composition of the music give 1642 as the year of the premiere, while the scenario printed for the premiere proper is dated 1643 (Rosand, Last Operas, 62). Busenello, who in 1656 also gave 1642 as the year of the premiere, may simply have forgotten to correct the date.

46 Cited and translated in Murata, Margaret, ‘Why the First Opera Given in Paris Wasn't Roman’, Cambridge Opera Journal, 7 (1995), 87105, here 102.

47 Doni, Giovanni Battista, De' trattati di musica, 2 vols. (Florence, 1763), II, 85–7.

48 Letter of 8 May 1572 to Vincenzo Galilei, in Mei, Girolamo, Letters on Ancient and Modern Music to Vincenzo Galilei and Giovanni Bardi, ed. Palisca, Claude V. (Rome, 1960).

49 Il Corago o vero Alcune osservazioni per metter bene in scena le composizioni drammatiche, eds. Fabbri, Paolo and Pompilio, Angelo (Florence, 1983), 67.

50 Curtis, ‘Poppea Impasticciata’, 42 n. 28.

51 See letter of 2 August 1664 from Tommaso Cornaro to Ippolito Bentivoglio, in Monaldini, Sergio, L'Orto dell'Esperidi: Musici, attori e artisti nel patrocinio della famiglia Bentivoglio (1646–1685) (Lucca, 2000).

52 Letter of 3 January 1647 to Cornelio Bentivoglio, in ibid.

53 Curtis, ‘Poppea Impasticciata’, 42 n. 28

54 See Murata, ‘Why the First Opera Given in Paris Wasn't Roman’, 91.

55 Bariletti, L'Andromeda, 8–9.

56 Cited in Ziosi, ‘I libretti’, 154.

57 Curtis, preface, xiv.

58 Monello is identified in Seifert, Herbert, ‘Cesti and his opera troupe in Innsbruck and Vienna, with new informations [sic] about his last year and his oeuvre’, in La figura e l'opera di Antonio Cesti nel seicento europeo, ed. Dellaborra, Mariateresa (Florence, 2003), 1562, here 22–3. He created the alto role of Lucimoro in Cesti's Argia in 1655.

59 See letter of 19 October 1641 from Marazzoli to Cornelio Bentivoglio, in Ziosi, ‘I libretti’, 164.

60 Curtis, ‘Poppea Impasticciata’, 29–31.

61 Cited and translated in Culley, Thomas D., Jesuits and Music: A Study of the Musicians Connected with the German College in Rome during the 17th Century and of their Activities in Northern Europe (Rome, 1970), 185.

62 Cf. Murata, ‘Why the First Opera Given in Paris Wasn't Roman’, 91.

63 Ziosi, ‘I libretti’, 154.

64 Roberta Ziosi and Dinko Fabris disagree somewhat about the transcription of the name: Ziosi has ‘Aurelio’ (‘I libretti’, 157), Fabris, Amodio’ (Mecenati e musici: Documenti sul patronato artistico dei Bentivoglio di Ferrara nell'epoca di Monteverdi (1585–1645) (Lucca, 1999)), but the correct reading seems to be ‘Amulio’.

65 The score of the intermedio La fiera di Farfa, which features Fritellino, is reproduced in Hammond, Frederick, ‘Bernini and the Fiera di Farfa’, in Gianlorenzo Bernini: New Aspects of His Art and Thought. A Commemorative Volume, ed. Lavin, Irving (London, 1985), 115–78.

66 The tendency of castrato voices to become lower with age is mentioned in Rosselli, John, ‘The Castrati as a Professional Group and a Social Phenomenon, 1550–1850’, Acta Musicologica, 60 (1988), 143–79, here 148.

67 Ziosi, ‘I libretti’, 152–3.

68 Rosand, Last Operas, 97.

69 Letter of 19 October 1642 to Cornelio Bentivoglio; cited in Ziosi, ‘I libretti’, 154.

70 Ziosi, ‘I libretti’, 152, 155–7.

71 Mamone, Sara, Dèi, semidei, Uomini: Lo spettacolo a Firenze tra neoplatonismo e realtà borghese (XV–XVII secolo) (Rome, 2003), 223–4.

72 He may be identical with the lawyer Pompeo Conti (1591–1650) mentioned in Corsignani, Pietro Antonio, Reggia Marsicana ovvero Memorie topografico-storiche di varie colonie, e città antiche e moderne della provincia de i Marsi e di Valeria, 2 vols. (Naples, 1738), II, 491.

73 See letter of 6 December 1642 from Giovanni Grimani to Cornelio Bentivoglio, in Ziosi, ‘I libretti’, 157.

74 Curtis, preface, xiv.

75 Scene headings only mention singing characters, but the Soldati are probably required to be on stage every time Nerone appears in Act I as well as in Act III scenes 3–4, as suggested by the lines he addresses to them (as stated in the last line of their duet, they are constrained to remain silent in the Emperor's presence).

76 Ziosi, ‘I libretti’, 155.

77 Zucchi was born in 1619 or 1620 (Emans, Reinmar, ‘Die Musiker des Markusdoms in Venedig 1650–1708, 1. Teil’, Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch, 65 (1981), 4581, here 80).

78 See e.g. Glixon, Beth L. and Glixon, Jonathan E., ‘Marco Faustini and Venetian Opera Production in the 1650s: Recent Archival Discoveries’, Journal of Musicology, 10 (1992), 4873, here 59–60.

79 Ziosi, ‘I libretti’, 156.

80 See letter of 5 April 1650 from Filippo Niccolini to Cornelio Bentivoglio, in Monaldini, L'Orto dell'Esperidi.

81 Antonio from Imola is identified in Moretti, Maria Rosa, Musica & costume a Genova tra cinquecento & seicento (Genoa, 1992), 151.

82 Cited in Ziosi, ‘I libretti’, 156.

83 In the Naples score, Mercurio has been transposed up a fifth into the tenor range (Curtis, ‘Poppea Impasticciata’, 33). As the trio of Famigliari was cut in Naples, it was thus possible to save one bass singer, while one had to double as Seneca, the Littore and the Tribuno. Mercurio would have to be doubled with Lucano.

84 Manelli is identified as a bass in Caffi, Francesco, Storia della musica sacra nella già Cappella Ducale di San Marco in Venezia dal 1318 al 1797, 2 vols. (Venice, 1854–5), II, 36. The voice types of Boretti and Pesarini are identified in Fabbri, Paolo, Monteverdi (Turin, 1985), 381 n. 17.

85 Rosand, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice, 233.

86 Anna Renzi's roles in the first six operas are named in Strozzi, Le glorie; her role in La Torilda in a sonnet printed at the back of one of the librettos (Inc., ‘Alla Signora Anna Renzi mentre nel Teatro Grimano rappresenta Torilda alla Prigione’, in Bissari, 114); her role in L'Argia in a hand-written cast list in one libretto (Seifert, ‘Cesti’, 49); and her role in Le fortune di Rodope e Damira in a cast list printed in the libretto (Aureli, 9). The libretto for Argiope is dedicated to Renzi (Fusconi, Giovanni Battista, Argiope, favola musicale (Venice, 1649)), surely implying that she was to sing the title role. Contracts for L'Eupatra show that Renzi was one of two prima donnas (Glixon and Glixon, ‘Marco Faustini’, 59), and since Angelica Felice Curti is known to have sung Irene (Glixon and Glixon, Business of Opera, 328), Renzi must have sung the title role.

87 From the diary of John Evelyn we know that Renzi sang in Ercole in Lidia (The Diary of John Evelyn, ed. de Beer, E. S. (Oxford, 1959), 229), and of the two female leads, the lascivious Onfale and the plaintive Fillide, the latter seems most in line with her other roles. It seems unlikely that she sang Rodopea who turns out to be Alceo disguised as a woman (Rosand, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice, 121), as there is no evidence of women playing men in Venetian opera, whether these are disguised as women or not. Besides, the opera already has two female leads, Onfale ending up marrying Alceo who, as one of the two leading men, is more likely to have been sung by a castrato.

88 Antonio Cesti, who became maestro di cappella in Innsbruck in December 1652, tried to engage Renzi for the summer of 1653, but she went to Genoa instead, apparently singing in productions of La Torilda and Il Cesare amante (Bianconi, Lorenzo and Walker, Thomas, ‘Dalla Finta pazza alla Veremonda: Storie di Febiarmonici’, Rivista italiana di musicologia, 10 (1975), 379454, here 442 n. 257; Freitas, Roger, Portrait of a Castrato: Politics, Patronage, and Music in the Life of Atto Melani (Cambridge, 2009), 86–8). In January 1654, however, she sang in the Innsbruck production of Il Cesare amante, which was retitled La Cleopatra, probably in her honour (Senn, Walter, Musik und Theater am Hof zu Innsbruck: Geschichte der Hofkapelle vom 15. Jahrhundert bis zu deren Auflösung im Jahre 1748 (Innsbruck, 1954), 287), and in November 1655 she created Dorisbe in L'Argia in Innsbruck. The facts that Renzi appeared twice in Cesti's second and last opera from before he left Venice, and that the composer repeatedly tried to attract her to Innsbruck, may suggest that she had created a role in Il Cesare amante, probably Cleopatra. Bianconi and Walker suggest that Cleopatra was created by Anna Maria Sardelli (‘Dalla Finta pazza alla Veremonda’, 442), but she could just as well have sung Finea.

89 Renzi and the two other women who sang in La Torilda are likely to have doubled as the Choro di Villanelle in Act III scene 10. Assuming that Il Bellerofonte featured nine singers, including two women and three soprano castratos (see Rosand, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice, 101), Renzi, as Archimene, is the only singer who could have doubled as Venere in Act II scene 3, since the four other sopranos would have been engaged in the same and the following scenes. She probably also appeared as Venus in the prologue of Il Cesare amante, since the mutual celebration of Venere and Himeneo mirrors the reconciliation of Cleopatra and Cesare at the end of the opera, the latter describing his Queen as ‘La mia Venere infida’ in Act I scene 12; see Ardio Rivarota [Dario Varotari], Il Cesare amante, drama per musica (Venice, 1651). In three operas Renzi is likely to have doubled as Juno. In the prologue and last scene of Act II of Ercole in Lidia, Giunone mirrors Fillide struggling to regain her lover who is fascinated by Rodopea. In L'Eupatra Giunone appears at the end of Acts I and II as the divine supporter of Eupatra in her war against Rome and her struggle with a faithless husband. And in the prologue of Le fortune di Rodope e Damira, Giunone accusing Diletto and Lascivia of profaning Imeneo's torch clearly mirrors Damira accusing her faithless husband and the courtesan Rodope of profaning her marriage. In her feigned mad scene in Act II scene 10 Damira even identifies herself as Giunone: ‘Mio supremo Tonante, Io son Giunone / Da te senza ragione / Abbandonata per un Io lasciva’ [My supreme Jove, I am Juno whom you abandoned without reason for a lascivious Io].

90 Carter, Musical Theatre, 104 n. 32. The Amori were omitted in 1643, however.

91 Letter of 28 November 1665 to Marco Faustini, in Glixon and Glixon, Business of Opera, 165.

92 Rosand, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice, 237–43. Rosand quotes one singer who does not want a ‘too difficult’ part, and another who finds certain scenes too long and dull, but none of this implies that they wanted a smaller part to play in the opera.

93 Carter, Musical Theatre, 290.

94 Sartori suggests that he was Francesco Manelli. See ‘La prima diva’, 436.

95 F. M., ‘Alla Signora Anna Renzi, celebre Cantatrice di Roma, rappresentante in Venetia la finta Pazza, sù le regie Scene del Teatro Novissimo’, in Strozzi, Le glorie, 15.

96 F. M., ‘Pianto di Deidamia nella finta Pazza del Sig. Giulio Strozzi. Espresso mirabilmente in Musica dalla Sig. Anna Renzi romana, nel Teatro Novissimo’, in Strozzi, Le glorie, 13.

97 G. B. V., ‘Abozzo di veraci Lodi alla Signora Anna Renzi romana cantatrice singolare; Idilio d'incerto Autore’, in Strozzi, Le glorie, 33–54, here 43.

98 del Colle, Giulio, Descrittione de gli apparati del Bellerofonte (Venice, 1642); cited and translated in Rosand, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice, 417.

99 Strozzi explains that the Inquisition forbade him to call the opera La finta santa, implying that the garden of the Sibyl is an allegory of a nunnery and Aretusa of a religious hypocrite. See La finta savia, 189.

100 G. B. V., ‘Abozzo’, 45–6.

101 M. T., ‘Alla Signora Anna Renzi rappresentante la Deidamia in habito d'Ergindo nel Teatro novissimo di Venetia’, in Strozzi, Le glorie, 62–4, here 63–4.

102 Strozzi, ‘Anna Renzi’, 6; cited and translated in Rosand, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice, 232.

103 Letter of 24 July 1627, in The Letters of Claudio Monteverdi, trans. Denis Stevens (London, 1980).

104 Letter of 24 May 1627, in ibid.

105 Letter of 22 May 1627, in ibid.

106 Letter of 10 July 1627, in ibid.

107 Letter of 7 May 1627, in ibid.

108 Rosand, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice, 350.

109 Ibid., 352–4.

110 Ibid., 60.

111 G. B. V., ‘Abbozzo’, 46.

112 Heller, Emblems, 153.

113 Rosand, Last Operas, 304.

114 Ibid. 314.

115 Curtis, preface, xiii, xiv.

116 Rosand, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice, 354.

117 Letter of 22 May 1627 to Alessandro Striggio, in Letters of Claudio Monteverdi.

118 See Fotheringham ‘Doubling of Roles’, for examples of similar meta-theatrical comments in Jacobean drama.

119 Busenello, Giovanni Francesco, Delle hore ociose (Venice, 1656).

120 A preliminary version, which the creators apparently considered before arriving at the most satisfactory solution, is found in the Udine manuscript libretto, which has the three-sentence structure, but in which the second line reads: ‘io vado a riverir l'imperatrice’ [I go to pay my respects to the Empress].

121 It cannot be entirely excluded either that the idea of Renzi playing a double role entered the minds of Busenello and Monteverdi rather late in the process, but as I will show in the final section of the article, the allegorical structure of the drama seems to be conditioned by the doubling, so as to make a late introduction of this idea unlikely.

122 Booth, Stephen, King Lear, Macbeth, Indefinition, and Tragedy (Christchurch, 1983/2001), 133.

123 A late echo of these lines, which may testify to the effect of Renzi's performance, is found in the opening line of Cleopatra's entrance aria in Act I scene 9 of Il Cesare amante, ‘Festeggia, mio core’ (music lost), which Renzi sang a decade later, the line recurring as a refrain in the manner of Drusilla's first lines.

124 G. B. V., ‘Abozzo’, 47–9.

125 Heller, Emblems, 176. Heller also finds the image of Renzi moving Cupid, and potentially Nerone, with her Act I lament irreconcilable with what she perceives as the Empress' ‘utter lack of concern about love’ (175–6). Yet Ottavia's diatribes against marriage, her vision of Nerone in Poppea's arms and her accusations against Jupiter can be seen as expressions of jealousy, too, which would explain the Nutrice's suggestion that the proper revenge on a husband who has hurt one's feelings (senso) is to take a lover. Perhaps the image of Renzi moving Cupid to tears should be taken quite literally, since Rabacchio, doubling as Amore and the Valletto, was probably attending on the Empress throughout Act I scene 5, though he did not sing until scene 6, complaining about standing still on the same spot without speaking.

126 Ibid., 176.

127 Strozzi, La finta savia, 185.

128 See also the anonymous eulogy to Anna di Valerio as Poppea, in Rosand, Last Operas, 414–19.

129 That such feuds were sometimes between singers' supporters rather than between the singers themselves, and that the opposition and artistic differences of two prima donnas could be magnified by theatre managers, librettists and composers for reasons of publicity or theatrical effect, has recently been suggested by Suzanne Aspden in her study of the famous rivalry of Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordini in London in 1726–28. Curiously, Cuzzoni and Faustina had sung together in Il Nerone in Venice in 1721 with the former as Poppea and the latter as Ottavia: here, too, the Poppea was the newcomer and the Ottavia the local diva (The Rival Sirens: Performance and Identity on Handel's Operatic Stage (Cambridge, forthcoming 2013), ch. 1). I am grateful to Suzanne Aspden for sharing her work with me in advance of publication.

130 The most important discussions are in von Fischer, Kurt, ‘Eine wenig beachtete Quelle zu Busenellos L'Incoronazione di Poppea’, in Congresso internazionale sul tema Claudio Monteverdi e il suo tempo, ed. Monterosso, Raffaello (Verona, 1969), 7580; Rosand, Ellen, ‘Seneca and the Interpretation of L'Incoronazione di Poppea’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 38 (1985), 3471; Heller, Wendy, ‘Tacitus Incognito: Opera as History in L'incoronazione di Poppea’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 52 (1999), 3995; Heller, Emblems, 143–5; Rosand, Last Operas, 335–6.

131 Kott, Jan, The Bottom Translation: Marlowe and Shakespeare and the Carnival Tradition, trans. Miedzyrzecka, Daniela (Northwestern, 1987), 32.

132 [Seneca], Octavia, trans. Fitch, John G. (Cambridge MA, 2004), lines 57–69.

133 Ibid., lines 131–3.

134 Ibid., lines 958–62.

135 Fenlon, Iain and Miller, Peter N., The Song of the Soul: Understanding Poppea (London, 1992), 42–3.

136 Heller, ‘Tacitus’, 63 n. 74.

137 Clubb, Louise George, Italian Drama in Shakespeare's Time (New Haven, 1989), 77.

138 For a recent analysis of this production in light of Medici propaganda and the aesthetics of il meraviglioso, see Treadwell, Nina, Music and Wonder at the Medici Court: The 1589 Interludes for La pellegrina (Bloomington and Indianapolis, 2008).

139 Fabbri, Monteverdi 97.

140 Bargagli, Girolamo, The Female Pilgrim, trans. Ferraro, Bruno (Ottawa, 1988), Act V scene 6.

141 Clubb, Italian Drama, 78–9.

142 Fenlon and Miller see her, in fact, as an ‘exemplification of neostoic virtue’ (Understanding Poppea, 89), which interpretation was refuted in Carter, Tim, ‘Re-Reading Poppea: Some Thoughts on Music and Meaning in Monteverdi's Last Opera’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 122 (1997), 173204, here 178.

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