Music Research and Composition Works

Title

Opera or oratorio?: Metastasio's sacred opere serie

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-1998

Journal

Early Music

Volume

26

Issue

4

First Page

596

Last Page

607

URL with Digital Object Identifier

10.1093/em/26.4.596

Abstract

Metastasio's first oratorios for Vienna fit into the tradition of the unstaged oratorio al sepolcro, a one-part work based on the Crucifixion and using costumes and scenery, at least a Holy Sepulchre model. Opera and oratorio and the theatrical genres in Vienna, by the time Metastasio got there, 1730, had become accepted as demonstrations of the Habsburg image of majesty, to include piety, divine favor, and power and order, among other things. These were to be put forward at the Hofkapelle and then reported. Opera and oratorio had reached Vienna in the early 17th century from Italy. In distinguishing between oratorio and sepolcro, scholars show that to a great extent certain sacred works were staged. That narrows the gap between them and theatrical counterparts. Any complete Metastasian drama, whether sacred or secular, staged or not, read, with or without music, was a moral drama, and complete in itself.

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