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The nature of commitment: Vincenzo Gonzaga's patronage strategies in the wake of the fall of Ferrara

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By the end of duke Vincenzo Gonzaga's reign in 1612, he had created in Mantua a unique and unrivalled centre of music theatre. The Mantuan musical and theatrical scene in the first decades of the seventeenth century eclipsed the metamorphic grandeur of the Medici and Valois courts with an aesthetic intensity born of Virgilian pastoralism and the rhetorical immediacy of the Heroides. Virgilian pastoral combined with the educational system established at Ferrara by Guarino Guarini to create a style of theatre that reached outside the bounds of static Olympian tableaux to enact living, coherent plots wherein shepherds, shepherdesses, and lovers expressed the limits of human emotion. The integration of music, rhetoric, and drama in Mantuan spectacles — an integration that came to fruition only in compositions of the seconda practica, where the dramatic moment governed the sound of the music as well as the words — resulted from the unique conf luence of people whom Vincenzo Gonzaga drew to his court in the wake of the devolution of Ferrara. By making citizens of his prized actors and musicians, Vincenzo Gonzaga established the historic moment in which the creation of a radically new style of music theatre could unfold.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Publication date: 2002-09-01

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