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Imitating Greek Tragedies: Theoretical Justification of the Melodrama in Early Modern Italy

Thu, March 22, 2:00 to 3:30pm, Hilton Riverside Complex, Compass Room


In the first decade of the 17th century several librettists and men of letters between Florence and Mantua contributed to the birth of a new theatrical genre, the favola per musica. This new kind of play needed a theoretical justification because it was not considered a form of legitimate poetry, as lyric, tragedy, comedy and epic poetry, by Aristotle. This paper aims to analyse the paratexts of these drammi per musica as well as many contemporary critical dissertations, in terms of the reshaping of the reception of classical literature. Indeed Greek tragedy, thanks to a new 17th century interpretation of Aristotle’s Poetics and Problems, was thought to be wholly sung, allowing poets and composers to claim that the dramma per musica was the most truthful reproduction of Sophocles’ and Euripides’ plays. This paper, thus, will contribute to further our understanding of the Renaissance reception of Greek tragedy.


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