Soprano as Fetish: Professional Singers in Early Modern Italy

Susan Mcclary

in Desire and Pleasure in Seventeenth-Century Music

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780520247345
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520952065 | DOI:
Soprano as Fetish: Professional Singers in Early Modern Italy

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“Soprano as Fetish” traces the contexts within which a craze for female singers emerged in the late sixteenth century and eventually influenced nearly every aspect of music making. Starting with the concerto delle donne in the court of Ferrara, it traces the rise of divas in the Medici court and elsewhere. It then turns to the most puzzling descendents of these women: the castrati, who challenged the apparent female monopoly on singing in the higher ranges. The chapter also examines the impact of virtuoso sopranos and their style of ornamentation on the emerging violin sonata and even on educational procedures.

Keywords: concerto delle donne; Luzzasco Luzzaschi; Vittoria Archilei; Marian Vespers; castrati; Giovanni Gabrieli; sonata; L'Incoronazione di Poppea

Chapter.  7162 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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