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Faculty of Music


Valeria De Lucca
University of Southampton

Roman heroes as Roman patrons: constructing aristocratic identity in seventeenth-century Rome

In the broad context of reception and assimilation of classical antiquity in early modern Rome, the Colonna family stands out for its original use of the theme and imagery of the ancient Roman military and political hero, not only in the visual realm but also in the world of opera. In this presentation I discuss a trajectory in their patronage that shows several degrees of manipulation of images from classical antiquity to construct their aristocratic identity: from the late sixteenth century and the battle of Lepanto, in which Marcantonio Colonna led the fleet of the Holy League to victory, to the frescoes in Palazzo Colonna commissioned in the second half of the seventeenth century; from the three librettos by Nicolò Minato for the public theatres of Venice dedicated to members of the Colonna family in the 1660s – Scipione affricano, Mutio Scevola and Pompeo magno – to the 1683 adaptation for Rome and the newly opened Teatro Colonna of Il Pompeo, with music by Alessandro Scarlatti. Tracing the patterns of change through diverse forms of expression over one hundred years reveals the careful myth-making strategy of a family and their self-aggrandising agenda, which relied heavily on the fluidity and permeability of media that was at the heart of Baroque aesthetics.

Wednesday, 25 October, 2017 - 17:00 to 19:00
Event location: 
5.00pm, Recital Room, Facuty of Music