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Faculty of Music


Suzanne Cusick
New York University

‘La schiava dolente cantando’: sounding alterity, slavery and crusade
politics in a Medici court entertainment

On February 24, 1607, a central Italian court invited select guests to celebrate the final night of carnival at one of their palaces. Part of the entertainment was a sung and danced spectacle characterized by "una musica stupenda," the success of which launched the composer's theatrical career, and reputation as a pioneer in the history of opera.

Like most court entertainments, this one had political overtones. Situating the entertainment in relationship to the court's attitudes toward Muslim power in the eastern Mediterranean, and the court's innovations in the Mediterranean slave trade, this paper explores the ways that the entertainment's sonic design both activated and enabled the disavowal of ethnoreligious biases. The paper concludes by meditating briefly on  implications for the historiographies of aurality, women's musical culture and opera.


The Colloquium series is the main opportunity for members of the Faculty of Music, researchers from other departments, and the general public to come together and hear papers on all aspects of music research, given by distinguished speakers from the UK and abroad.

Admission is free and all are welcome.

Please join us for tea and coffee at 4.30pm in advance of 5.00pm start. Papers are followed by a discussion and a drinks reception with the speaker.

Wednesday, 6 March, 2019 - 17:00 to 19:00
Event location: 
Recital Room, Faculty of Music