Cavalli (real name, Caletti), Pier Francesco

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Cavalli (real name, Caletti), Pier Francesco

Cavalli (real name, Caletti), Pier Francesco, historically significant Italian opera composer; b. Crema, Feb. 14, 1602; d. Venice, Jan. 14, 1676. His father, Giovanni Battista Caletti (known also as Bruni), was maestro di cappella at the Cathedral in Crema; he gave him his first instruction in music; as a youth he sang under his father’s direction in the choir of the Cathedral. The Venetian nobleman Federico Cavalli, who was also mayor of Crema, took him to Venice for further musical training; and as it was a custom, he adopted his sponsor’s surname. In December 1616 he entered the choir of S. Marco in Venice, beginning an association there which continued for the rest of his life; he sang there under Monteverdi; also served as an organist at Ss. Giovanni e Paolo (1620–30). In 1638, he turned his attention to the new art form of opera, and helped to organize an opera company at the Teatro San Cassiano. His first opera, Le nozze di Teti e di Peleo, was performed there on Jan. 24, 1639; nine more were to follow within the next decade. In 1639 he successfully competed against three others for the post of second organist at S. Marco. In 1660 Cardinal Mazarin invited him to Paris, where he presented a restructured version of his opera Serse for the marriage festivities of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa. He also composed the opera Èrcole amante while there, which was given at the Tuileries on Feb. 7, 1662. He returned to Venice in 1662; on Jan. 11, 1665, he was officially appointed first organist at S. Marco; on Nov. 20, 1668, he became maestro di cappella there. After Monteverdi, Cavalli stands as one of the most important Venetian composers of opera in the mid-17th century. In recent years several of his operas have been revived; Raymond Leppard ed. L’Ormindo (London, 1969) and Calisto (London, 1975); Jane Glover ed. L’Eritrea (London, 1977).


DRAMATIC: Opera: Le nozze di Teti e di Peleo (Venice, Jan. 24, 1639); Gli amori d’Apollo e di Dafne (Venice, 1640); Didone (Venice, 1641); Amore innamorato (Venice, Jan. 1, 1642; music not extant); La virtù de’ strali d’Amore (Venice, 1642); Egisto (Venice, 1643); L’Ormindo (Venice, 1644); Doriclea (Venice, 1645); Titone (Venice, 1645; music not extant); Giasone (Venice, Jan. 5, 1649); Euripo (Venice, 1649; music not extant); Orimonte (Venice, Feb. 20, 1650); Oristeo (Venice, 1651); Rosinda (Venice, 1651); Calisto (Venice, 1652); L’Eritrea (Venice, 1652); Veremonda l’amazzone di Aragona (Naples, Dec. 21, 1652); L’Orione (Milan, June 1653); Ciro (composed by Francesco Provenzale; prologue and arias added by Cavalli for Venice, Jan. 30, 1654); Serse (Venice, Jan. 12, 1655); Statira principessa di Persia (Venice, Jan.18, 1656); Erismena (Venice, 1656); Artemisia (Venice, Jan. 10, 1657); Hipermestra (Florence, June 12, 1658); Antioco (Venice, Jan. 21, 1659; music not extant); Elena (Venice, Dec. 26, 1659); Èrcole amante (Paris, Feb. 7, 1662); Scipione Affricano (Venice, Feb. 9, 1664); Mutio Scevola (Venice, Jan. 26, 1665); Pompeo Magno (Venice, Feb. 20, 1666); Eliogabalo (composed in 1668; not perf.); Coriolano (Piacenza, May 27, 1669; music not extant); Massenzio (composed in 1673; not perf.; music not extant). The following operas have been ascribed to Cavalli but are now considered doubtful: Narciso et Ecco immortalati; Deidamia; II Romolo e ’l Remo; La prosperità infelice di Giulio Cesare dittatore; Torilda; Bradamante; Armidoro; Helena rapita da Theseo; also La pazzia in trono, overo Coligóla delirante, which is a spoken drama with some music. None of the music is extant for any of these works.


H. Prunières, C. et l’opéra venetien au dix-septième siècle (Paris, 1931); E. Rosand, Aria in the Early Operas of F. C. (diss., N.Y.U., 1971); L. Bianconi, F. C. und die Verbreitung der venezianischen Oper in Italien (diss., Univ. of Heidelberg, 1974); J. Glover, C. (N.Y., 1978).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Cavalli (real name, Caletti), Pier Francesco

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