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At the origins of Classical opera

Carlo Goldoni and the «dramma giocoso per musica»

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Pervinca Rista

Venetian playwright and pioneer of modern theatre Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793) led a ‘double life’ as a librettist, authoring nearly as many libretti as comedies- libretti which, born from the same mind and the same hand that brought forth his famous, and famously controversial, overhaul of the practices of comic theatre, could not but push the limits of the standing tradition to open a new chapter in opera history. Goldoni became one of the first to give shape to the dramma giocoso per musica, an innovative, realistic, and enduring new genre with intimate connections to prose comedy that met with overwhelming international success, becoming the foundation for the works of future generations, including W. A. Mozart and his Italian librettist Lorenzo da Ponte. Perhaps because of his stature and influence as a comic playwright, Goldoni has rarely been considered as an innovator in the musical sphere. This study aims to shed new light on his primary role in the evolution of Classical opera, and on the legacy of his innovations in the European musical tradition.

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About the author

About the author

Pervinca Rista (b. Italy) holds a PhD in Comparative Literature (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA), along with numerous advanced degrees in Violin Performance earned in both the US and Italy. She has won numerous academic and musical awards, and performs concerts regularly worldwide. She has authored texts for music, has translated numerous works from Italian to English, and has published research in class-A international journals. Her research and teaching interests include the history of Italian literature and culture, the relationship between literature and music, the history of opera, and Italian comic theatre of the Enlightenment. She is a Marie Curie Research Fellow based at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, having won an Individual Fellowship grant from the European Commission for her original project “GoldOpera: Carlo Goldoni and Europe’s New Opera Theatre.”