Abstract and Keywords
This essay shows that in Italy for much of the eighteenth century, canonic recognition was granted to the librettist of a famous opera but not to the composer, who was seen as an artisan rather than an intellectual. But the unique long-term popularity of Pergolesi’s La serva padrona (1733) led to the honoring of composers in subsequent generations both in musical and in dramatic terms. Even though a stable authorial canon of opera composers failed to establish itself in Italy prior to the triumph of Rossini, strong respect emerged for composers such as Niccolò Jommelli, Niccolò Piccinni, and Giovanni Paisiello, which, together with the rising fame of leading singers, laid the groundwork for the Italian operatic canon of the nineteenth century. This chapter is paired with Michel Noiray’s “The practical and symbolic functions of pre-Rameau opera at the Paris Opéra before Gluck.”
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