Francesco Cavalli (born Pietro Francesco Caletti-Bruni; 14 February 1602 – 14 January 1676) was a Venetian composer, organist and singer of the early Baroque period. He succeeded his teacher Claudio Monteverdi as the dominant and leading opera composer of the mid 17th-century. A central figure of Venetian musical life, Cavalli wrote more than forty operas, almost all of which premiered in the city's theaters. His best known works include Ormindo (1644), Giasone (1649) and La Calisto (1651).
Cavalli was born at Crema, then an inland province of the Venetian Republic. He became a singer (boy soprano) at St Mark's Basilica in Venice in 1616, where he had the opportunity to work under the tutorship of Claudio Monteverdi. He became second organist in 1639, first organist in 1665, and in 1668 maestro di cappella. He took the name "Cavalli" from his patron, Venetian nobleman Federico Cavalli. Though he wrote prolifically for the church, he is chiefly remembered for his operas. He began to write for the stage in 1639 (Le nozze di Teti e di Peleo) soon after the first public opera house opened in Venice, the Teatro San Cassiano. He established so great a reputation that he was summoned to Paris from 1660 (when he revived his opera Xerse) until 1662, producing his Ercole amante. He died in Venice at the age of 73.
Music and influence
Cavalli was the most influential composer in the rising genre of public opera in mid-17th-century Venice. Unlike Monteverdi's early operas, scored for the extravagant court orchestra of Mantua, Cavalli's operas make use of a small orchestra of strings and basso continuo to meet the limitations of public opera houses.
Cavalli introduced melodious arias into his music and popular types into his libretti. His operas have a remarkably strong sense of dramatic effect as well as a great musical facility, and a grotesque humour which was characteristic of Italian opera down to the death of Alessandro Scarlatti. Cavalli's operas provide the only example of a continuous musical development of a single composer in a single genre from the early to the late 17th century in Venice — only a few operas by others (e.g., Monteverdi and Antonio Cesti) survive. The development is particularly interesting to scholars because opera was still quite a new medium when Cavalli began working, and had matured into a popular public spectacle by the end of his career.
Cavalli wrote forty-one operas, twenty-seven of which are extant, being preserved in the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (Library of St Mark) in Venice. Copies of some of the operas also exist in other locations. In addition, two last operas (Coriolano and Masenzio), which are clearly attributed to him, are lost, as well as twelve other operas that have been attributed to him, though the music is lost and attribution impossible to prove.
In addition to operas, Cavalli wrote settings of the Magnificat in the grand Venetian polychoral style, settings of the Marian antiphons, other sacred music in a more conservative manner – notably a Requiem Mass in eight parts (SSAATTBB), probably intended for his own funeral – and some instrumental music.
- Musiche sacre concernenti messa, e salmi concertati con istromenti, imni, antifone et sonate (Venecia, 1656).
- Messa, 8vv, 2 vn, vc, otros instrumentos ad libitum ed. R. Leppard (Londres, 1966).
- Alma redemptoris mater, 2 S, A, T, B, ed. B. Stäblein, Musica divina, iv (Regensburg, 1950).
- Ave maris stella, A, T, B.
- Ave regina caelorum, T, B, ed. B. Stäblein, Musica divina, i (Regensburg, 1950).
- Beatus vir, A, T, B, 2 vn, vc.
- Confitebor tibi Domine, 8vv, 2 vn, vc
- Credidi, 2 S, A, T, B, 2 vn, vc
- Deus tuorum militum, A, T, B, 2 vn, vc
- Dixit Dominus, 8vv, 2 vn, vc, other insts ad lib
- Domine probasti, S, A, B, 2 vn, vc
- Exultet orbis, 4vv, 2 vn, vc
- In convertendo, 2 S, A, T, B
- Iste confessor, 2 S, 2 vn, vc
- Jesu corona virginum, A, T, B, 2 vn, vc
- Laetatus sum, A, T, B, 2 vn, 3 va, ed. R. Leppard (London, 1969)
- Lauda Jerusalem, 8vv, 2 vn, vc, other insts ad lib
- Laudate Dominum, 8vv, 2 vn, vc, ed. R. Leppard (London, 1969)
- Laudate pueri, 2 S, A, T, B, 2 vn, vc
- Magnificat, 8vv, 2 vn, vc, other insts ad lib, ed. R. Leppard (London, 1969)
- Nisi Dominus, 4vv, 2 vn, vc
- Regina caeli, A, T, B, ed. B. Stäblein, Musica divina, ii (Regensburg, 1950)
- Salve regina, A, 2 T, B, ed. B. Stäblein, Musica divina, iii (Regensburg, 1950)
- Canzoni [sonate] a 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12; a 6 y a 12 ed. R. Nielsen (Bologna, 1955)
- Vesperi, 8vv, bc (Venice, 1675)
- Vespero della B.V. Maria: Dixit Dominus; Laudate pueri; Laetatus sum; Nisi Dominus; Lauda Jerusalem; Magnificat. ed. G. Piccioli (Milan, 1960); ed. F. Bussi (Milan, 1995)
- Vespero delle domeniche: Dixit Dominus; Confitebor; Beatus vir; Laudate pueri; In exitu Israel; Laudate Dominum; Credidi; In convertendo; Domine probasti; Beati omnes; De profundis; Memento; Confitebor angelorum; Magnificat, ed. G. Piccioli (Milan, 1960); all ed. F. Bussi (Milan, 1995)
- Vespero delle cinque Laudate ad uso della cappella di S Marco: Laudate pueri; Laudate Dominum laudate eum; Lauda anima mea; Laudate Dominum quoniam bonus; Lauda Jerusalem; Magnificat, ed. G. Piccioli (Milan, 1960); all ed. F. Bussi (Milan, 1995)
- Cantate Domino, 1v, bc, 16252; ed. F. Vatielli, Antiche cantate spirituali (Turin, 1922)
- O quam suavis, 1v, bc, 16453
- Magnificat, 6vv, 2 vn, bc, 16505; ed. F. Bussi (Milan, 1988)
- In virtute tua, 3vv, bc, 16561
- O bone Jesu, 2vv, bc, 16561
- Plaudite, cantate, 3vv, bc, 16561
- Missa pro defunctis [Requiem], 8vv, bc, D-Bsb, Dlb; ed. F. Bussi (Milan, 1978)
|Title||Libretto||Première date||Place, theatre||Notes|
|Le nozze di Teti e di Peleo||Orazio Persiani||24 January 1639||Venice, Teatro San Cassiano|
|Gli amori d'Apollo e di Dafne||Giovanni Francesco Busenello||1640||Venice, Teatro San Cassiano|
|La Didone||Giovanni Francesco Busenello||1641||Venice, Teatro San Cassiano|
|L'amore innamorato||Giovanni Battista Fusconi||1 January 1642||Venice, Teatro San Moisè|
|Narciso et Ecco immortalati||Orazio Persiani||30 January 1642||Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo||lost|
|La virtù dei strali d'Amore||Giovanni Faustini||1642||Venice, Teatro San Cassiano|
|L'Egisto||Giovanni Faustini||autumn 1643||Venice, Teatro San Cassiano|
|La Deidamia||Scipione Herrico||5 January 1644||Venice, Teatro Novissimo||lost|
|L'Ormindo||Giovanni Faustini||1644||Venice, Teatro San Cassiano|
|Il Romolo e 'l Remo||Giulio Strozzi||1645||Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo||lost|
|La Doriclea||Giovanni Faustini||1645||Venice, Teatro San Cassiano|
|Il Titone||Giovanni Faustini||1645||Venice, Teatro San Cassiano||lost|
|La prosperità infelice di Giulio Cesare dittatore||Giovanni Francesco Busenello||1646||Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo||lost|
|La Torilda||Pietro Paolo Bissari||1648||Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo or Teatro San Cassiano||lost|
|Il Giasone||Giacinto Andrea Cicognini||5 January 1649||Venice, Teatro San Cassiano|
|L'Euripo||Giovanni Faustini||1649||Venice, Teatro San Moise||lost|
|L'Orimonte||Nicolò Minato||23 February 1650||Venice, Teatro San Cassiano|
|La Bradamante||Pietro Paolo Bissari||1650||Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo||lost|
|L'Armidoro||Bortolo Castoreo||20 January 1651||Venice, Teatro Sant 'Apollinare||lost|
|L'Oristeo||Giovanni Faustini||9 February 1651||Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare|
|La Rosinda||Giovanni Faustini||1651||Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare||also known as Le magie amorose|
|La Calisto||Giovanni Faustini||28 November 1651||Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare|
|L'Eritrea||Giovanni Faustini||17 January 1652||Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare|
|La Veremonda, l'amazzone di Aragona||Giacinto Andrea Cicognini and Giulio Strozzi||21 December 1652||Naples, Nuovo Teatro del Palazzo Reale||also known as Il Delio|
|L'Orione||Francesco Melosio||June 1653||Milan, Teatro Real|
|Il Xerse||Nicolò Minato||12 January 1654||Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo|
|Il Ciro||Giulio Cesare Sorrentino||30 January 1654||Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo||in collaboration with Andrea Mattioli|
|L'Erismena||Aurelio Aureli||30 December 1655||Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare|
|Statira principessa di Persia||Giovanni Francesco Busenello||18 January 1656||Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo|
|L'Artemisia||Nicolò Minato||10 January 1657||Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo|
|L'Hipermestra||Giovanni Andrea Moniglia||12 June 1658||Florence, Teatro degli Immobili|
|L'Antioco||Nicolò Minato||12 January 1659||Venice, Teatro San Cassiano||lost|
|Il rapimento d'Helena||Giovanni Faustini and Nicolò Minato||26 December 1659||Venice, Teatro San Cassiano||also known as Elena|
|La pazzia in trono, ossia il Caligola delirante||Domenico Gisberti||1660||Venice, Teatro Sant'Apollinare||lost|
|Ercole amante||Francesco Buti||7 February 1662||Paris, at the Salles des Machines in the Tuileries Palace||Ballet music by Jean-Baptiste Lully|
|Scipione affricano||Nicolò Minato||9 February 1664||Venice, Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo|
|Muzio Scevola||Giovanni Faustini and Nicolò Minato||26 January 1665||Venice, Teatro San Samuele|
|Pompeo Magno||Nicolò Minato||20 February 1666||Venice, Teatro San Salvatore|
|Eliogabalo||Aurelio Aureli||composed 1667, premiered 2004||Venice, Teatro San Salvatore||It was never staged and was replaced by another opera of the same name by Giovanni Antonio Boretti. Eliogabalo was first performed in 1999, in Crema, Italy.|
|Coriolano||Cristoforo Ivanovich||27 May 1669||Piacenza, Teatro Ducale||lost|
|Masenzio||Giacomo Francesco Bussani||composed 1673||unperformed and lost|
Cavalli's music was revived in the twentieth century. The Glyndebourne production of La Calisto is an example. More recently, Hipermestra was performed at Glyndebourne in 2017. The discography is extensive and Cavalli has featured in BBC Radio 3's Composer of the Week series.
- Walker, Thomas (2001). "Cavalli [Caletti, Caletto, Bruni, Caletti-Bruni, Caletto Bruni], (Pietro) [Pier] Francesco". Grove Music Online. Revised by Irene Alm. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.05207. ISBN 978-1-56159-263-0. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
- "Composer of the Week". Retrieved 5 August 2012.
- Vincenzo Palmisciano. "Sulla biografia di Giulio Cesare Sorrentino". Studi secenteschi. LXI (2020): 295–298.
- Vincenzo Palmisciano. "Un ritrovamento per Domenico Basile e due per Girolamo Fontanella". Studi secenteschi. LVI (2015): 417–420.
- Ellen Rosand (ed), Readying Cavalli's Operas for the Stage: Manuscript, Edition, Production, Farnham/Burlington, Ashgate, 2013, p. 64, ISBN 9781409412182.
- Fonseca-Wollheim, Corinna da (8 March 2013). "A Senate of Prostitutes? Now That's Opera!". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 February 2023.
- Ross, Alex, "Unsung: Rediscovering the Operas of Francesco Cavalli." The New Yorker, 25 May 2009, pp. 84–85.
- Maddocks, Fiona (26 May 2017). "Hipermestra review – Cavalli comes in from the cold". The Observer. Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
- Bukofzer, Manfred, Music in the Baroque Era. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1947. ISBN 0-393-09745-5
- Glixon, Beth L. and Jonathan E., Inventing the Business of Opera: The Impresario and His World in Seventeenth-Century Venice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-19-515416-9
- Glover, Jane, Cavalli. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1978. ISBN 0-312-12546-1
- Rosand, Ellen, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice. Berkeley:University of California Press, 1991. ISBN 0-520-06808-4
- Selfridge-Field, Eleanor, Venetian Instrumental Music, from Gabrieli to Vivaldi. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. ISBN 0-486-28151-5
- Rismondo, Paolo A., Pietro Francesco Caletti Bruni detto il Cavalli: tappe per una biografia
- Free scores by Francesco Cavalli in the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
- Rodrigo, Artaserse L. (9 March 2005). "Brief biography and discography" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 16 June 2020. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
- Free scores by Francesco Cavalli at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)