BeeIsForBarberini

‘Bee’ is for BarberiniItalian history is a mausoleum of artifacts; perpetually manifesting the relevance and insurmountable influence of its country. Rich with ornate tapestries of contribution, the arts thrive in the modern world because of the efforts set forth by many an Italian poet, philosopher, architect, artist, and musician. Often in times of great strife, sprang forth artistic creations underlining the need for social or political change. At the center of rage and war, artists of multiple trades can be found at the center of de-escalation propositioning the belligerents for peace through song and lyric. Chief among the sea of artists—throughout Italy’s long history—is the Barberini family. The patronal juggernauts of Baroque Rome are a topic of great interest. Their undying support of artists yielded substantial commerce and notoriety for the expanding family; and in turn, the Barberini family used their artistic and cultural influence to quell temperaments of battling countries all the while ensconcing themselves within the infrastructure of Roman history, never to be removed.The humble beginnings of the Barberini family can be traced to a secluded village in the Florentine region of Tuscany called ‘Barberino Val D’elsa around the eleventh century. As successful members of the merchant class, brothers Carlo and Antonio Barberini sought to elevate their social status. Feeling the call of service to his country, Antonio fought against the Medici rule and their Imperial troops to uphold the Florentine Republic. Growing weary of the tyrannical De Medici rule, he departed for Rome. Decades later, an ambitious Maffeo Barberini elevated the familial status to greater heights with his cardinal appointment in the year 1606. The continuance of his canonical career yielded his election as pope; called Pope Urban VIII. Seeking to continue his family’s elevation, several of family members took their place in political and ecclesiastical seats with one of his nephews finding claim to royal status in the Palestrinian court. Maffeo’s career secured the family fortune and his interest in music outlined his involvement in the setting of Latin hymns and some of his own works. During Pope Urban VIII’s reign, major descent befell the empire. A schism between the Holy Roman Empire and Protestant nobles of Germany was created after the election of Ferdinand II. This separation was caused by a refusal—at the hand of Ferdinand II—to reinstate the Peace of Augsburg; which allotted ecclesiastical lands to Protestants. After his refusal, the Protestants elected their own King of Bohemia in the name of Friederick V. The nobles of Protestant faith allied themselves with forces that were already participating in the rebellion and these proceedings lead to start of the Thirty Years War. At the end of its cataclysmic events, an enormous number of soldiers were lost over the expanse of the Holy Roman Emperor. Adding to the carnage, more civilians died of starvation and disease and the population was reduced from sixteen million to four million.Divided into four sections, the Thirty Years War was a long and terrible ordeal. The first section, ‘The Bohemian War,’ (1618– 1623) denotes Ferdinand II refusal to recant on the conversation of the Peace of Augsburg and the election of the Protestants’ King Friedrich V. The second section covers the defeat of the Danish and their signing of the Peace of Lübeck and was aptly called the ‘Danish War’ (1625-1629). At the end of the Danish War and the beginning of the next section—called the ‘Swedish War—’ the Barberini family began to insert their political opinions into the plots of their operas. The first of the iconic ‘Saint Operas’ is called Sant’ Alessio. The work was commissioned by the Barberini Family; and carried out by Stefano Landi and Giulio Rospigliosi. This was the first opera to be written about the inner life of a human character. The work was first performed at Palazzo Barberini in 1631 and performed again in Palazzo Barberini alle Quattro Fontane a year later during Carnival. The work centers on St. Alexis; a once proud man who returns to his homeland disguised as a beggar. Once home, he finds his wife and mother grieving his absence. Alexis is faced with the challenging decision to remain disguised or reveal himself to his family who sets to search for him. Further impairing his decision making, is the devil who reveals himself to Alexis as a vagabond. Refusing the Devil’s enticement, Alexis prays to the heavens and receives a guardian angel. Later, he is prepared to die. He is still in disguise and chooses to remain that way until his passing. He is found in his father’s home with a note that details his journey and is true identity. The opera reveals itself to hold pertinent themes of temptation, commitment, fragility, and deep strengths of love. The roles were carried out by three sopranos (Alexis), (Guardian Angel), and (Mother/wife), a tenor (Eufemiano), and a bass (The Devil). The work was carried by powerful recitative with each act containing at least once scene of expressive pathos. This particular work—the first—was particularly powerful in its messages as it persuaded an ambassador of the Holy Roman Empire, Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg, of the need for peace and treaty as he made his way to the palace of the Barberini and beholding the carnage in its vicinity. The Barberini family positioned the dramatic work as a warning for the ambassador to convince the emperor to find another way to end the war.Santi Didimo e Teodora is the second of the sacred operas commissioned by the Barberini Family. Performed in 1635 and again in 1636 at the Palazzo alle Quattro Fontane, the opera tells the story of Teodora and Didimo. They are freshly converted Christians who face impending persecution. Their families tried dissuading them of their new convictions to no avail. Teodora is plagued by personifications of luxury as she struggles to hold to her faith. While Didimo tries to convince Teodora to escape with her life after she has been imprisoned. Unmoved by the efforts of their families, Teodora and Didimo stand before the Olibrio and prepare for death. The opera ends with their families hearing of their deaths while the spirits of Teodora and Didimo console them from their heavenly perch. This Barberini work embeds a message of concrete faith within its sacred text. The conviction of faith once received is to be stored deep within one’s heart amidst temptation. This production was set forth to announce the unbiased position of the Barberini family as stood betwixt the French court and Hapsburgs of Germany. They enlisted the help of their well-positioned family members—Cardinal Antonio Barberini, Cardinal Francesco Barberini, and Prince Prefect of Rome, Taddeo Barberini—to invite dignitaries of their courts to absorb the show. The cunning Barberini family structured the performances and their guests as to promote a sense of unification of the catholic faith amongst its branches as the faith saw itself divided amidst the raging of the Thirty Years war. San Bonifatio claims the third space in the Barberini Saint cycle. Within its story lies the tale of Boniface the Martyr. Written in 1638, the opera details the love of Bonifatio and his love Algae in its opening. Unbeknownst to Bonifatio, Algae is unhappy. She plagued with memories of her youth and frivolity. So much so that—after receiving a message by servant from one of her suitors—she persuades Bonifatio to go war in aid of the Christian faith. Bonifatio reluctantly agrees. While away, he is tempted by a demon to return to his love but refuses. Unsuccessful, the demon tempts Algae into calling Bonifatio home. The ending of the work chronicles the events after Bonifatio’s death as he was captured by the Romans. A servant arrives to deliver the news of his death. The final scene of the opera is a ballet. This is the first opera in the cycle that presented in the court of Francesco Barberini at the Palazzo della Cancelleria.The fourth install of the Saint Cycle was Genoinda which was produced in 1641. Like its predecessor it was performed in the Palazzo della Cancelleria to celebrate the marriage of Marc’Antonio Colonna and Isabella Gioieni. The music for this production was provided by Virgilio Mazzaochhi, the Maestro di Cappella to Francesco Barberini. This work was the first in the cycle to stray from the sacred context. Instead of being based on the life and actions of a Christian saint, the work is based on a figure of the medieval era. The opera tells the story of Genevieve of Brabant. While her husband, the Duke of Bavaria, is away at war with his men, he leaves her in the care of a trusted friend. Unbeknownst to Genevieve, the friend—Gelone—is in love with her. He attempts to seduce her with no positive outcome so he resorts to sending fake information—by way of her nurse—that her husband, Sifrido, may not return. After another failed attempt at gaining her hand, he resorts to having her mocked by the court which he governs in the Duke’s absence. Upon hearing the news of the Duke’s return, he lays more false information that Genevieve has deserted her vow of marriage. Without question, Sifrido has her executed privately. In the wake of her execution, there is unrest. The servants suspect foul play and Gelone’s conscience begins to eat away at him. To quell his madness, he resolves to assassinate Sifrido. As Gelone and his men wait for an opportunity to execute their plan, it is revealed that Genoinda is alive and has been living in the forest. After his capture, Gelone recants and Genoinda is spared. As an act of peace, she spares Gelone’s life as well. The Barberini ‘Saint’ cycle concludes with a work produced in the year 1643 and debuted in proximity to the Vatican at the Palazzo Campeggi-Rusticucci. Sant’Eustachio—an opera based on the life of St. Eustace—tells the story of a general of the Holy Roman Empire. Secretly of the Christian faith, he continues to fight for the emperor to much conquest. His wife, Teopiste, is discovered to be Christian after she is caught in prayer. Denounced by his sons, Eustacio continues his work in the name of the Holy Roman Empire. A jealous courtier threatens to ruin his career by telling the court of his secret faith, but an angel’s intervention seeks to prepare Eustacio for battle. Being summoned by the emperor, he is tasked with making a sacrifice at the temple of Mars. In this moment, Eustacio professes his faith to the emperor resulting in his imprisonment. The opera concludes with Eustacio’s sons standing with their father after hearing of his Christian conviction and their mother at their side. The entire family resolves to die together as a Christian family. All five of the operas—produced from 1631 to 1643—possess themes of steadfastness of faith, temptation, and doubt. Unruly dramatic works though they were, the operas served as a lyrical method of conversation with which the Barberini family conveyed their highly regarded sentiments to their distinguished and eclectic guests. The recurring themes of the operas swayed the Thirty Years in many different and pertinent places from their inception as intended.From the family’s humble beginnings in Baberino Val D’elsa, the mighty Barberini asserted their place in Italian culture with strategic move after strategic move. Their social ambition lead to the election of Pope Urban VIII which provided the opportunity for further social—and political—escalation. From Giulio Rospigliosi—the future Pope Clement IX—whose librettos adorned the Saint operas with dazzling recitative and political context to Stefano Landi who orchestrated the majority of the Rospigliosi’s librettos for the Barberini family to Gian Lorenzo Bernini—the sculptor and architect who designed many works in homage to his patrons including the immaculate Teatro delle Quattro Fontane and Palazzo Barberini. Their influence outlasts many names of the era and their patronage ornaments Italian geography, art, and music in the present. BibliographyBlamires, David. “The Thirty Years War.” In Telling Tales: The Impact of Germany on English Children’s Books 1780-1918, 291-308. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Open Book Publishers, 2009. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vjt8c.20.Blunt, Anthony. “The Palazzo Barberini: The Contributions of Maderno, Bernini and Pietro Da Cortona.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 21, no. 3/4 (1958): 256-87. doi:10.2307/750826.Brown, Howard Mayer, Ellen Rosand, Reinhard Strohm, Michel Noiray, Roger Parker, Arnold Whittall, Roger Savage, and Barry Millington. “Opera (i).” Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 18 Nov. 2019. Grout, Donald Jay. A SHORT HISTORY OF OPERA. 6th ed. NEW YORK: COLUMBIA UNIV. PR., 1947.Lamothe, Virginia Christy. 2009. The Theater of Piety: Sacred Operas for the Barberini Family (rome, 1632-1643). https://doi.org/10.17615/t759-cy26Lown, David. “On the Trail of the Bees of the Barberini Family, Rome.” PICTURES FROM ITALY (Est. 2001), May 16, 2019. https://www.picturesfromitaly.com/rome/pope-urban-viii-and-the-bees-of-the-barberini-family-rome.Murata, M.  (2001). Rospigliosi, Giulio. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 8 Nov. 2019, from https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000023868.Murata, Margaret. “Barberini.” Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 18 Nov. 2019. https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000001998.Murata, Margaret. “Landi, Stefano.” Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 8 Nov. 2019. https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000015941.Murata, Margaret. “Sant’ Alessio.” Grove Music Online. 2002; Accessed 18 Nov. 2019. https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-5000904629.Murata, Margaret. “LOGIN to Licensed Databases at McNeese.” LOUIS Authentication, 2001. https://www-oxfordmusiconline-com.mcneese.idm.oclc.org/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000001998?rskey=safvNa.Witzenmann, Wolfgang. “Mazzocchi, Virgilio.” Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 18 Nov. 2019. https://www-oxfordmusiconline-com.mcneese.idm.oclc.org/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000018203.

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