Cavalli's "Ormindo": tonality and sexuality in seventeenth-century Venice

McDonald, Bernard Michael (2010) Cavalli's "Ormindo": tonality and sexuality in seventeenth-century Venice. MMus(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
Download (1MB) | Preview
Printed Thesis Information:


"Ormindo", the third collaboration between the composer Francesco Cavalli and the librettist Giovanni Faustini, was created for the 1644 carnival opera season at Venice's Teatro San Cassiano. This thesis, aimed at performers as well as scholars, begins with a brief consideration of the cultural context of early public opera in Venice and the emergence of the musical language of tonality. It goes on to examine how, in setting Faustini's text, Cavalli represents desire and sexuality, constructs character, and creates a musical narrative. Cavalli's implementation of the precepts of the "seconda prattica" is also considered in terms of textural and rhetorical devices. Close analyses of specific scenes and characters, supported by extensive musical examples and a comprehensive synopsis, reveal that Cavalli's particular fusion of nascent tonality and late-Renaissance hexachordal modality made for fluid, expressive and multivalent opera, before the genre coalesced into more rigidly closed tonal structures divided into dry recitative and da capo arias. This fluidity extends to matters of gender and sexuality. The thesis concludes that the ambiguities that this musical language provides reflect the ambiguities of real life, and that complex verisimilitude is achieved in ways that it could not be in later baroque opera. "Ormindo", therefore, can be as engaging, fresh and entertaining today as it was in 1644, so long as performers are aware of the peril of tampering with its original content and structure.

Item Type: Thesis (MMus(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: tonality, opera, Venice, Seventeenth-Century, mode, hexachord, sexuality, desire, durus, mollis, Cavalli, Faustini, modal, modal-hexachordal, gender, Venetian Opera, Accademia degli Incogniti, sex in music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
M Music and Books on Music > MT Musical instruction and study
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Music
Supervisor's Name: Butt, Prof. John
Date of Award: 2010
Depositing User: Mr Bernard M McDonald
Unique ID: glathesis:2010-1958
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:48

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year