A Musical Fight between Soul and Body in 1600

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The subject of this article is a discussion of Emilio de' Cavalieri's early Baroque music drama, Rappresentatione di anima, et di corpo (The Play of Soul and Body), performed in Rome in 1600 with a particular focus on the ambivalence apparent in this work between the text's explicit pious plea for renouncing worldly pleasures on the one hand and, on the other hand, the theatrical, musical, and even textual means in the play intended to delight the audience, but also through this delight to bring about its religious message to the audience. This ambivalence may shed light on broader issues of cultural history connected to continuities and changes in Reform Catholicism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Although seemingly influenced by a general pessimism of the time, the Catholic world could draw on a devotional, aesthetically resourceful, tradition providing ambiguous relief in contemporary pious culture, including Cavalieri's avant-garde music dramatic devotion.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Early Modern Christianity
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)233-247
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Theology - music drama, confraternity piety, esthetics, Congregazione dell'Oratorio, Emilio de' Cavalieri

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