Classical sources and thematic structure in the Florentine Intermedi of 1589

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Abstract:

In 1589 Ferdinando de' Medici celebrated his wedding to Christine of Lorraine with elaborate entertainments including a series of six musical intermedi, performed with Bargagli's comedy La Pellegrina. The diverse intermedi programme includes scenes inspired by Plato, Plutarch, Ovid, Dante, and others, Unnoticed literary connections between the six intermedi suggest an underlying unity, created by a ring structure expressed through implicit and explicit connections. These interconnections form the programme into a symbolic catabasis, or descent to and return to the underworld, which proclaims the defeat of evil and the triumph of the Golden Age brought on by the wedding of Ferdinando and Christine.

The test and music of the final intermedio was rewritten at the last moment before performance; in this rewriting, the Platonic scenario on which it was based was made more festive using language from Catullus' epithalamia and his Poem 64 (‘The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis’), and from the fourth Eclogue of Vergil. This suggests the unnamed trio in the finale were meant to be the three Fates, returned from an appearance in the first intermedio.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1477-4658.00300

Publication date: June 1, 1999

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