De Lucca, Valeria
Dressed to impress: the costumes for Antonio Cesti’s Orontea in Rome (1661)
Early Music, 41, (3), . (doi:10.1093/em/cat077).
- Version of Record
Restricted to Repository staff only
Based on a cross-examination of records of payments concerning the preparation of the costumes for a production of Antonio Cesti’s Orontea in Rome in 1661 and of contemporary visual testimonies, this article investigates the fundamental role that costumes played in early modern opera. Relying on widely understood conventions and on the shared cultural and social background of patrons and audience, costume designers were expected to create artefacts that would convey a multiplicity of meanings and fulfil more than one function. Through the use of rare and precious fabrics, lace, real and fake jewels and precious stones, costumes aptly represented the wealth of the family sponsoring the event. Far from being mere decorative elements, however, they also served an important narrative function in the opera, helping the audience recognize the characters, their social status, their provenance and their age. Furthermore, by blurring the boundary between reality and fiction, they were also a fundamental vehicle of operatic verisimilitude, helping the audience navigate the fluid territory between life on and off the stage and generating a sense of ‘marvel’ that was central to Baroque aesthetics
Actions (login required)