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Inventing the Business of OperaThe Impresario and His World in Seventeenth-Century Venice$
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Jonathan Glixon and Beth Glixon

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195154160

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195154160.001.0001

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Inventing the Business of Opera

Beth L. Glixon

Jonathan E. Glixon

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at one of the impresario's chief responsibilities, the recruiting and hiring of suitable singers. Impresarios drew on complex networks built up with some of the leading families throughout Italy, including the Medici in Florence and the Marquis Bentivoglio of Ferrara; various agents as well as diplomats in cities such as Rome, Turin, and Vienna were also called into service. During the mid-17th century, singers of many types looked towards opera as a way of earning extra income. Most of the male singers, whether castrati or not, were also active as church or court singers. Many of the leading prima donnas were recruited from Rome with increasingly high salaries. In some cases, the impresarios and singers (such as Anna Renzi) drew up detailed contracts in order to protect both parties. The complex negotiations necessary to recruit the best singers are described in a case study concerning the highest paid singer at the time in Venice, Giulia Masotti.

Keywords:   contracts, protector, recruiting, castrati, prima donna, salaries, Medici, Anna Renzi, Giulia Masotti

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