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Corelli, Politics and Music during the Visit of Philip V to Naples in 1702


This article discusses and places in historical context a newly discovered set of letters between Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni and his agent in Naples during the visit of King Philip V of Spain to the city in 1702. These letters, in part transcribed in an Appendix, clarify several details concerning Corelli's visit to the city and confirm that he was accompanied by the violinist Matteo Fornari as well as by a third musician, the cellist Pippo Amadei, instead of G. L. Lulier, as hitherto supposed. With new facts that augment information already known from other sources, such as the correspondence of Cardinal Francesco Maria de' Medici, the article sheds new light on disputes that occurred at this time between other musicians and their patrons, such as those involving G. B. Stuck and the Giudice family. Considering these facts in the wider context of the War of the Spanish Succession, I argue that Corelli's visit was the subject of significant political calculations on the part of Cardinal Ottoboni and members of the Spanish and Neapolitan nobility.

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1 Archivio Storico del Vicariato di Roma, Fondo Ottoboni, volume EEE, letter of 28 November 1699.

2 The Duke of Parma's ambassador in Madrid reported the anecdote in a letter preserved in the Archivio di Stato di Napoli, Archivio Farnesiano, busta 48/1, f. 625v.

3 See below and Document 4 in the Appendix.

4 Bianconi, Lorenzo and Walker, Thomas, ‘Production, Consumption and Political Function of Seventeenth-Century Opera’, Early Music History 4 (1984), 282.

5 On the information provided by the Diario and Burney see Allsop, Peter, Arcangelo Corelli: New Orpheus of Our Times (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 5556. The first scholar to clarify the dates of the composer's stay in Naples was Rinaldi, Mario in Arcangelo Corelli (Milan: Edizioni Curci, 1953), 248, according to Marín, Miguel Ángel, ‘La recepción de Corelli en Madrid (ca. 1680–ca. 1810)’, in Arcangelo Corelli fra mito e realtà storica: nuove prospettive d'indagine musicologica e interdisciplinare nel 350° anniversario della nascita, ed. La Via, Stefano, D'Ovidio, Antonella and Barnett, Gregory Richard (Florence: Olschki, 2007), volume 2, 590593. See also Pagano, Roberto, Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti: Two Lives in One, trans. Hammond, Frederick (New York: Pendragon, 2006), 97100, originally published in Italian as Scarlatti Alessandro e Domenico: due vite in una (Milan: Mondadori, 1985).

6 The volume containing the letters concerning Corelli is labelled TTTT. There is no catalogue describing the contents of the Fondo, although a summary description (reporting only a vague title and dates) is available at the Archive.

7 On the role of Medinaceli and the renewal of Naples as an operatic centre no longer dominated by imports from Venice see Bianconi, Lorenzo, Music in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 197198, originally published in Italian as Il Seicento (Turin: Edizioni di Torino, 1982).

8 Galasso, Giuseppe, Napoli spagnola dopo Masaniello: politica, cultura, società (Florence: Sansoni, 1982), 629.

9 Annibaldi, Claudio, ‘Towards a Theory of Musical Patronage in the Renaissance and Baroque: The Perspective from Anthropology and Semiotics’, Recercare 10 (1998), 174.

10 The details of the libretto are taken from Bianconi, Lorenzo, ‘Funktionen des Operntheaters in Neapel bis 1700 und die Rolle Alessandro Scarlattis’, in Colloquium Alessandro Scarlatti. Würzburg, 1975, ed. Osthoff, Wolfgang (Tutzing: Schneider, 1979), 101102.

11 Giorgetti Vichi, Anna Maria, Gli Arcadi dal 1690 al 1800: onomasticon (Roma: Arcadia Accademia letteraria italiana, 1977), 175. On the life and training of Castiglione see Fernández-Santos, Jorge, ‘“Sin atender a la distancia de payses…”: el fasto nupcial de los príncipes de Feroleto entre Nápoles y Mirándola’, Reales Sitios 43/167 (2006), 2949.

12 The prince offered Escalona his palace at Santa Lucia while the former Viceroy prepared his departure; the fittings and adornments put in place for this occasion were so lavish that everyone in Naples visited the palace ‘per goder la vista della preziosità degli apparati, la rarità delle pitture, la prodigiosa quantità degli argenti e di tutte l'altre inestimabili masserizie e suppelletti’ (to enjoy the view of the precious decorations, the rare paintings, the huge amount of silverware and all the rest of the priceless furniture), as reported by the Gazzetta di Napoli on 24 January 1702 (there is a copy of this issue in the Archivio di Stato di Napoli, Archivio Caracciolo di Santo Buono, Ambascerie e vicereame del Perù, busta 32, unknown to Magaudda, Ausilia and Costantini, Danilo, Musica e spettacolo nel regno di Napoli attraverso lo spoglio della ‘Gazzetta’ (1675–1768) (Rome: ISMEZ, 2011)).

13 Talbot, Michael, ‘Corelli, Arcangelo’, in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, ed. Sadie, Stanley and Tyrrell, John (London: Macmillan, 2001), volume 6, 459.

14 On the date of the premiere see Maria-Louise Catsalis, ‘Clori, Dorino e Amore by Alessandro Scarlatti: A Serenata for Philip V?’, in Responsabilità d'autore e collaborazione nell'opera dell'età barocca: il pasticcio. Atti del convegno internazionale di studi, ed. Pitarresi, Gaetano (Reggio Calabria: Laruffa, 2011), 69, which in turn cites the classic study by Thomas Griffin, ‘The Late Baroque Serenata in Rome and Naples: A Documentary Study with Emphasis on Alessandro Scarlatti’ (PhD dissertation, University of California at Los Angeles, 1983), 364–365, which also establishes the chronology of other musical performances for the king given on 19 April and 1 May.

15 Pagano, Alessandro and Domenico, 99; Talbot, ‘Corelli, Arcangelo’, 459.

16 According to the libretto for the opera Rodrigo in Algeri (1702). The Countess was Catalina Lorenza de Mendoza Silva Haro y Aragón (1669–1727). The Count was Ginés Fernández de Castro (1666–1741), who had been in charge of the Galleys of the Kingdom since 1698, when the couple arrived at Naples. He enjoyed the rank of Grandee of Spain and was the descendant of two Viceroys. The reference in Rodrigo in Algeri is reported in Barry Kernfeld and Julie Anne Sadie, ‘Stuck [Stück], Jean-Baptiste [‘M. Baptiste’, Baptistin, Batistin]’, in The New Grove, second edition, volume 24, 619–620. Further information on the music promoted by the pair is found in Magaudda, Ausilia and Costantini, Danilo, ‘Rappresentazioni operistiche di Silvio Stampiglia nella Gazzetta di Napoli, con particolare attenzione al periodo del viceré Medinaceli’, in Intorno a Silvio Stampiglia: Atti del convegno internazionale di studi (Reggio Calabria, 5–6 ottobre 2007), ed. Pitarresi, Gaetano (Reggio Calabria: Laruffa, 2010), 189n190n.

17 It may refer to the serenata performed on 1 May in the Belvedere of the Royal Palace. See the Giornale del viaggio d'Italia dell'invitissimo e gloriosissimo monarca Filippo V (Naples: Niccolò Bulifoni, 1703), 43; see also Griffin, ‘The Late Baroque Serenata’, 364–365.

18 The source is described in Marín, ‘La recepción de Corelli en Madrid’, 612–613.

19 Several details concerning their presence in Naples are referred to in various unpublished sources: for instance, in the Archivo Ducal de Medinaceli (Toledo), Archivo Histórico, leg. 1, r. 2, letter 155; Archivo Ducal de Alburquerque (Cuéllar) 107, no. 4; Archivo Histórico de la Nobleza (Toledo), Osuna, cartas 252, document 101.

20 On the theatrical and musical activity of the counts in Naples see Croce, Benedetto, I teatri di Napoli: secolo XV–XVIII (Naples: Luigi Pierro, 1891), volume 1, 182184, and, more recently, Magaudda and Costantini, Musica e spettacolo, 77–78, with further references to José María Domínguez, ‘Mecenazgo musical del IX duque de Medinaceli: Roma-Nápoles-Madrid, 1687–1710’ (PhD dissertation, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 2010), which contains a ‘musical biography’ of the Count in volume 2, 630–631.

21 In a letter to the Duke of Infantado dated 26 November 1700 Lemos writes: ‘no pudiendo dejar de encargarte pases tus buenos oficios con estos señores del gobierno para que en caso de pasar mi virrey a Roma a la embajada de obediencia al nuevo pontífice del nuevo rey de España, se me dé el ínterim de este gobierno’ (I do ask you to negotiate with those gentlemen of the government so that the post of Viceroy ad interim will be conferred upon me, in the event that the current Viceroy goes to Rome to present the embassy of obedience before the Pope on behalf of the new King of Spain); Archivo Histórico de la Nobleza (Toledo), Osuna, cartas 156, document 16.

22 The appointment took place on 29 May, according to the Giornale del viaggio published by Bulifoni (see note 17), 152.

23 Not to be confused with Count Santisteban, who had previously served as Viceroy at Naples but was now returning as a member of the king's retinue.

24 Rocco may well have succeeded in this, as evidenced by his admission to the Arcadian Academy (his name is listed in Vichi, Gli Arcadi dal 1690 al 1800, 86). Some time after 1702 Rocco secured an ecclesiastical post in Pozzuoli. A few of his activities as a protégé of Ottoboni in 1704 are revealed in Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Segreteria di Stato, Spagna, volume 192, f. 440.

25 The complete passage is quoted in Pagano, Alessandro and Domenico, 98.

26 On the personal musical taste of the Cardinal and his use of patronage as a mean of self-promotion see Fantappiè, Francesca, ‘Dalla corte agli impresari. Giovan Battista Tamburini: strategie di carriera di un contralto tra Sei e Settecento’, Musica e Storia 17/2 (2009), 293352.

27 ‘Mi scrive l'agente mio di Napoli le abbondanti gratie che l'Eminenza Vostra si era disposto farmi nelle contingenze delli tre miei virtuosi, che suppongo del tutto liberi da ogni soggettione, anzi a momenti li attendo in questa casa di ritorno’ (my agent in Naples informs me about the abundant graces that Your Eminence was ready to make me regarding the problems of my three musicians, whom I suppose completely free of any duty [in Naples], and indeed I look forward to having them back in this palace very soon). My italics. Letter by Ottoboni from Rome, 3 June 1702, Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Mediceo del Principato 5843, cited in Francesca Fantappiè, ‘“Un garbato fratello et un garbato zio”: teatri, cantanti, protettori e impresari nell'epistolario di Francesco Maria Medici (1680–1711)’ (PhD dissertation, Università di Firenze, 2004), volume 2, 709.

28 ‘Altezza Reverendissima: quella fortuna che non mi fu conceduta di poter rassegnare il mio profondo rispetto a Vostra Altezza Reverendissima ne' pochi giorni ch'ella onorò questa capitale, mi do l'ardire di procurarla a queste mie debolissime fatighe, che le consagro in ossequioso tributo, come ho fatto del mio core. Vostra Altezza Reverendissima si degni di concederle un guardo benigno e tanto bastarà per farmi considerare in quel vantaggio invidiabile d'essere, come inchinandomi umilmente alla di lei grandezza, baciando il lembo della sacra porpora, mi sottoscrivo, di Vostra Altezza Reverendissima, Napoli 8 giugno 1702’ (Most Reverend Highness: the fortune that was not conferred upon me of showing you my profound respect for Your Most Reverend Highness during the few days that you honoured this city in person, I dare to confer to these my very weak efforts [in reference to a piece of music that he is attaching to the letter as a present to Medici], which I dedicate to you as a devoted tribute rising from my heart. May Your Most Reverend Highness deign to reply with a mild look, as this will be enough to consider me as belonging to Your Most Reverend Highness –an enviable advantage– as I do confirm myself bowing to your magnanimity and kissing the sacred purple hat, Naples, 8 June 1702), Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Mediceo del Principato 5783, cited by Fantappiè, ‘“Un garbato fratello et un garbato zio”’, volume 2, 296.

29 ‘Scarlatti non partì poi a codesta volta [probably Florence], come doveva succedere, ma bensì tornò mercoledì in poste a Napoli, avendo avuto avviso che la sua moglie stava male, però con intenzione di tornar con l'istessa diligenza a questa volta, per proseguire il suo viaggio costì e poi a suo tempo in Spagna’ (Scarlatti has not travelled to that city [probably Florence] as was supposed to happen, but on the contrary he went back to Naples last Wednesday with the mail carriage, as he was informed that his wife was ill; nonetheless he intends to return here with the same carriage in order to continue his travel there [to Florence] and then to go to Spain at the established time), Letter by Paolo della Stufa from Rome to Cardinal Medici, Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Mediceo del Principato, 5844, cited by Fantappiè, ‘“Un garbato fratello et un garbato zio”’, volume 2, 721. My italics.

30 Pagano, Alessandro and Domenico, 111ff.

31 della Seta, Fabrizio, ‘I Borghese (1691–1730): la musica di una generazione’, Note d'archivio per la storia musicale 1 (1983), 161.

32 ‘Con eccesi di più compita generosità si compiacque Vostra Altezza onorare questa sua casa nella dimora che fece in Napoli, et ora con atti di eccesiva compitezza mi fa partecipe de' sue riveritissime grazie col suo stimatissimo foglio’ (with an excess of the most polite generosity, Your Highness was pleased to honour this palace during your visit to Naples, and now, with acts of the greatest courtesy, you make me enjoy your most venerated favours with your much appreciated letter). Anna Camilla also confirms that she had received the libretto of the opera performed at Pratolino and adds: ‘la di cui composizione essendo bellissima e tutta spirito, suppongo che con la musica si sarà resa singolare’ (whose text being most beautiful and very witty, I suppose that together with the music it will become a unique opera). Naples, 28 September 1702. Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Mediceo del Principato, 5843, cited by Fantappiè, ‘“Un garbato fratello et un garbato zio”’, volume 2, 711.

33 Giornale del viaggio, 178–181.

34 Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Fondo Bolognetti, volume 78, f. 238, published in Della Libera, Luca and Domínguez, José María, ‘Nuove fonti per la vita musicale romana di fine Seicento: il Giornale e il Diario di Roma del Fondo Bolognetti all'Archivio Segreto Vaticano’, in La musique à Rome au XVIIe siècle: études et perspectives de recherche, ed. Giron-Panel, Caroline and Goulet, Anne-Madeleine (Rome: Publications de l'École française, 2012), 121185.

35 A letter by the abate Melani sent to Rome from Paris on 31 July 1702 reads: ‘Io non dico che rompa l'amicizia col signore cardinale Grimani, ma che se ne allontani dolcemente più che può, mentre è stato fin supposto che Sua Emminenza abbia avuto mano nel disegno orribile tramatosi in Napoli di attentare alla vita del Re di Spagna’ (I do not mean that you break your friendship with cardinal Grimani, but rather that you detach yourself from him as discreetly as you can, while it has been supposed that His Eminence has taken part in the horrible plan plotted in Naples against the life of the King of Spain), Archivio Storico del Vicariato di Roma, Fondo Ottoboni, volume letter V.

36 On Corelli's performances for the Spanish institutions in Rome see Marín, ‘La recepción de Corelli en Madrid’, 583–588.

37 Further unpublished notices regarding the links between Corelli and Medinaceli while the latter was ambassador to the Holy See in Rome (1687–1696) are included in Della Libera and Domínguez, ‘Nuove fonti per la vita musicale romana di fine Seicento’.

38 On Uceda, together with reference to Corelli, see Tedesco, Anna, ‘Juan Francisco Pacheco V duca di Uceda, uomo politico e mecenate tra Palermo, Roma e Vienna nell'epoca della guerra di succesione spagnola’, in La pérdida de Europa: la guerra de sucesión por la monarquía de España, ed. Álvarez-Ossorio, Antonio, García, Bernardo and León, Virginia (Madrid: Fundación Carlos de Amberes, 2007), 491548.

39 On 8 May, ‘a las 6 de la tarde pasó al salón donde se hizo una ópera, y estuvo toda alrededor con bancas y sillas a donde estaban todas las señoras, y detrás los caballeros. Y Su Majestad estuvo en camón con celosías y estaban los grandes, gentilhombres, mayordomos. Y así que Su Majestad se sentó, se abrió la celosía y besaron la mano todas las señoras. Y así que acabaron de besarla, se volvió a cerrar y se dio principio a la ópera y se acabó a las 9’ (at six in the evening [the king] entered the room where an opera was to be performed, and there were around him many benches and chairs where all the ladies were, and the gentlemen behind them. And His Majesty was seated on a throne closed by lattices and the grandees, gentlemen and stewards were around him. And as soon as His Majesty was seated, the lattices were opened and the ladies kissed his hand. And as soon as they had finished kissing, it was closed and the opera began, and it finished at nine). Archivo Histórico de la Nobleza (Toledo), Osuna, cartas 198, documents 40–42.

40 Dated and addressed identically to Document 6, but extracted from a separate letter.

* This article forms part of the research and development project ‘Chamber Music in Eighteenth-Century Spain: Genres, Performance, Recovery’ (code HAR2011–22712) and has been funded by the ‘Juan de la Cierva’ programme, both promoted by the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. A preliminary version was presented at the seminar ‘Música instrumental en España, 1750–1800: estilos, influencias, interpretación’ in July 2011 (see the report in Eighteenth-Century Music 9/1 (2012), 174–176). I wish to thank Michael Talbot and Thomas Griffin for their help and wise advice.

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