Pio Enea Obizzi: Power and Authorship

Matsumoto, Naomi. 2018. Pio Enea Obizzi: Power and Authorship. In: R Rasch, ed. Music and Power in the Baroque Era. 6 Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 275-298. ISBN 9782503580715 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

The contribution of Marquis Pio Enea degli Obizzi (1592-1674) to the early history of opera was first noted by the seventeenth-century chronicler Cristoforo Ivanovich. He indicated in his (in)famous Minerva tavolino (published first in 1681) that an ‘opera torneo’ to the Marquis’s libretto Ermiona, performed in Padua in 1636, had been nothing less than a direct impetus for the inauguration of the first-ever commercial opera house in Venice the following year. This article examines the exact nature and extent of Obizzi’s control and power over the musico-theatrical works that he produced during the 1630s and 40s. These include: I furor di Venere (Bologna, 1639), Il pio Enea (Ferrara, 1641) and L'Amor pudico (Padua,1643). Of the three works, only Il pio Enea is a fully-fledged opera, while the remaining two belong to the genre of opera torneo. A particular emphasis is given to Il Pio Enea, since it is, among Obizzi’s works, the only libretto whose musical setting survives, albeit by an anonymous composer. It also shares its source (Virgil’s Aeneid) with Claudio Monteverdi’s Le nozze d’Enea in Lavinia, premiered in Venice during the same season. The close proximity in time and subject matter between these two operas is particularly curious. Furthermore, a detailed examination of Obizzi’s work helps us understand Monteverdi’s late opera, for which only the libretto survives. Drawing on little-known sources, this article argues that the role of Obizzi was not simply that of an aristocratic patron but also a plot deviser in those productions. Such manifestations of aristocratic power have significant implications for our understanding of the notion of ‘authorship’ in early modern operatic productions. A detailed analysis of Obizzi’s works not only enables us to trace the crucial power-transition from courtly to commercial enterprise that opera as a whole underwent.

Item Type:

Book Section


music, power, aristocracy, authorship, early modern, Monteverdi

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25 August 2018Published

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Date Deposited:

10 Sep 2018 08:49

Last Modified:

13 Jun 2021 00:26



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