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Title: Musical Descents: Creating and Re-Creating Hell in Italian Opera, 1600-1680
Authors: Shanti, Aliyah Meena
Advisors: Heller, Wendy B
Contributors: Music Department
Keywords: 17th Century
Subjects: Music history
Italian literature
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Despite the prevalence of scenes set in the underworld in 17th-century opera, the infernal scene as a distinct phenomenon has received little scholarly attention. This dissertation examines infernal scenes from a diverse series of operas written between 1600 and 1680, considering their theatrical and musical conventions, which provided opportunities for spectacular dances, choruses, and stage machinery. I explore how librettists mixed the classical myths on which many of these operas were based with notions associated with the Counter-Reformation, and with the imagery of earlier views of Hell, particularly those of Dante. Infernal scenes were among the most spectacular of all the conventional scenes of 17th-century opera, and had a great theological and symbolic resonance in a Roman Catholic cultural context. Since opera is necessarily an art form that includes aspects not only of music but of theater, literature, and visual arts, my work will be of interest and use to scholars of all these arts, as well as to scholars of religion. For Italianists and other scholars of literature, who are less accustomed to dealing with musical materials, opera is a useful lens through which to view the early modern popular reception not only of classical authors such as Virgil and Ovid, but of vernacular poets including Tasso and Dante. This study demonstrates the place of the spectacular and fantastic in 17th-century depictions of Hell, not only in opera, but in literature and visual art. My work demonstrates the porous boundaries between the sacred and the profane, between Christian and pagan, in early modern artistic production.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Music

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