Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Adaptations in Arcadia: "Orlando Furioso" on the Eighteenth-Century Operatic Stage
by Raizen, Karen Tova, Ph.D., Yale University, 2017, 239; 10633261
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation explores operatic adaptations of Orlando JR furioso in the eighteenth century, particularly as they relate to the Arcadian Academy. Whereas the seventeenth century witnessed only a handful of Furioso-themed operas, the eighteenth century was a veritable geyser of operatic Orlando; dozens of libretti were produced on the subject, leading to an eighteenth-century craze for the crazed, staged Orlando. The most celebrated and most diffused operatic adaptations of the Furioso were produced by members of the highly influential Arcadian Academy, an institution that aimed to establish a literary (and therefore social, cultural, and political) reign of good taste and reason throughout the European continent. This dissertation probes why and how Arcadians, self-proclaimed harbingers of eighteenth-century reason, were so invested in the operatic depiction of a Renaissance madman. I am interested not only in the intertextual threads of operatic Orlando that is, how librettists and composers translated sixteenth-century sensibilities to the eighteenth-century stage—but also how these intertextual threads can be read for their broad cultural resonances. Operatic Orlando, in his many permutations, is emblematic of the complexities and contradictions espoused by the Arcadian Academy, and, as such, is crucial to the shaping of an eighteenth-century ethos.

This dissertation consists of five chapters. The first chapter explores the different ways in which Arcadians understood madness, in its myriad manifestations. Rather than focusing specifically on opera, I cast a wide net in my discussion in order to holistically approach Arcadian theories and practices: through an examination of early Arcadian writings I identify threads and currents that likely formed the text/texture for the operatic Orlando craze. Chapter 2 focuses more specifically on Arcadian opera, if such a concept truly existed: drawing from the works of scholars of music history such as those of Freeman, Strohm, and Smith, I explore the conventions of eighteenth-century opera and contextualize them within the frame of the Arcadian Academy and its reform culture. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 form the analytical body of the dissertation, as they each probe the conditions and textual questions of specific adaptations of the Furioso. I consider the libretti discussed in each of these chapters to be `ur-adaptations,' in that they were each performed—and often modified—numerous times in diverse locales, serving as textual bases for many of the eighteenth-century Furioso adaptations. In these chapters I perform both historical analyses and close readings of texts, as well as musical analyses and examinations of related textual objects. Thus in Chapter 3 I read Grazio Braccioli's libretto Orlando furioso (1713) as well as his related libretto Orlando finto pazzo (1714), and explore the musical settings of composer Antonio Vivaldi as they were performed at the Teatro Sant'Angelo in Venice; in Chapter 4 I turn to Rome, with Carlo Sigismondo Capece's libretto Orlando ovvero la gelosa pazzia (1711), and follow the work to its London iteration Orlando (1733), which was set to music by George Frideric Handel; finally, in Chapter 5 I analyze Pietro Metastasio's serenata L'Angelica (1720) within the context of the court of the Holy Roman Emperor, and explore its resonances throughout Europe.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mazzotta, Giuseppe
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Romance literature, Music, Theater History
Keywords: Arcadian Academy, Eighteenth-Century, Madness, Opera, Orlando Furioso
Publication Number: 10633261
ISBN: 9780355105537
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