Intersections Study Day

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11:05–11:55 Session 2. Opera and other genres

Carlo Bosi, Universität Salzburg,

From ‘vizio privato’ to ‘pubblica virtù’: Parallels between the novelle and the drammi per musica by Maiolino Bisaccioni

Much better known for his political pamphlets than for his purely literary production, the Ferrarese-born Maiolino Bisaccioni (1582–1663) was at one time secretary of the Venetian Accademia degli Incogniti, founded by Gian Francesco Loredan (1607–1661) in 1630. To the collection of the Cento Novelle amorose dei Signori Accademici Incogniti (1651), which he himself edited, Bisaccioni contributed with six novelle. These he later republished in an anthology of his own subdivided into four books (1637–1664), which comprised 68 tales in total. Even by the copious standards of his times Bisaccioni’s personal contribution to the genre is remarkable. Less well known is his activity as a librettist. Of these he authored three: L’Ercole in Lidia (Teatro Novissimo, 1645), with music by Giovanni Rovetta; La Semiramide in India(Teatro SS. Giovanni e Paolo, 1648), set to music by Francesco Sacrati, and L’Orithia (Teatro SS. Apostoli, 1650), music composed by Gasparo Sartorio. In addition, he wrote the Cannocchiale per la Finta pazza (Venice, 1641), which, beyond its evident promotional aim, also provided a pretext for political and moral considerations on one of the most successful operas of those decades. In this paper I propose an investigation of the relationships between libretti and some novelle in Bisaccioni’s oeuvre, analysing possible common narrative strategies and the migration from one genre to the other of fictional situations and/or stock dramatic sequences and materials, highlighting at the same time the subtle emergence of political considerations matured in the author’s several historiographical works.

Carlo Bosi gained his DPhil at the University of Oxford (2004) with a dissertation on modality in the songs of Du Fay and Binchois. In 2004–2005 he was DAAD scholar at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena-Weimar and in 2006–2007 he received a scholarship of the Norges Forskningsråd at the NTNU Trondheim with a project on chant in medieval Scandinavia. He was Research Fellow at City University, London between 2007 and 2009. From 2010 until 2017 he was postdoc and a senior postdoc on two FWF (Austrian Science Fund) projects on the borrowing and citation of monophonic tunes in polyphonic textures ( Since 2019 he is senior postdoc in a research project exploring the relationship of libertine literature and libretti in early Venetian opera ( He is now preparing a research project on Antonio Caldara’s operas for Salzburg.


The Didone Project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC)
under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme,
Grant agreement No. 788986.