Pietro Francesco Cavalli

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Pietro Francesco Cavalli

Francesco Cavalli (February 14, 1602 – January 14, 1676), Italian composer, was born at Italy. His real name was Pietro Francesco Caletti-Bruni, but he is better known by that of Cavalli, the name of his patron, a Venetian nobleman. Cavalli was known as the best opera composer in Venice after the death of Claudio Monteverdi and achieved that position because of his sensitive use of orchestral accompaniments for the recitatives to create a more emotional venue for one's personal and spiritual transformation.

Cavalli realized that one's human responsibility requires a principled effort, an effort towards the achievement of fundamental human attributes.


Cavalli became a singer at St Mark's in Venice in 1616, second organist in 1639, first organist in 1665, and in 1668 maestro di cappella. He is, however, chiefly remembered for his operas.

St. Mark's Square in Venice

He began to write for the stage in 1639 (Le Nozze di Teti e di Peleo), and soon established so great a reputation that he was summoned to Paris in 1660 to produce an opera (Xerse). He visited Paris again in 1662, producing his Ercole amante at the Louvre, which was written in honor of the marriage of Louis XIV. He died in Venice at the age of 73.


Cavalli wrote thirty-three operas, twenty-seven of which are still extant, being preserved in the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (Library of St Mark) at Venice. Copies of some of the operas also exist in other locations. In addition, nine other operas have been attributed to him, though the music is lost, and attribution impossible to prove.

In addition to operas, Cavalli wrote settings of the Magnificat in the grand Venetian polychoral style, settings of the Marian antiphons, other sacred music in a more conservative manner (notably a Requiem Mass in eight parts [SSAATTBB], probably intended for his own funeral), and some instrumental music.


Cavalli was the most influential composer in the rising genre of public opera in mid-seventeenth century Venice. Unlike Monteverdi's early operas, scored for the extravagant court orchestra, Cavalli's operas make use of a small orchestra of strings and basso continuo to meet the limitations of public opera houses.

Cavalli introduced melodious arias into his music and popular types into his libretti. His operas have a remarkably strong sense of dramatic effect as well as a great musical facility, and a grotesque humour which was characteristic of Italian grand opera down to the death of Alessandro Scarlatti. Cavalli's operas provide the only example of a continuous musical development of a single composer in a single genre from the early to the late seventeenth century in Venice — only a few operas by others (e.g. Monteverdi and Antonio Cesti) survived. The development is particularly interesting to scholars because opera was still quite a new medium when Cavalli began working, and had matured into a popular public spectacle by the end of his career.

Works list


  • Le nozze di Teti e di Peleo (1639)
  • La Dafne (1640)
  • La Didone (1641)
  • L'Amore innamorato (1642, music lost)
  • La virtù de' strali d'Amore (1642)
  • L'Egisto (1643)
  • L'Ormindo (1644)
  • La Doriclea (1645)
  • Il Titone (1645, music lost)
  • Il Giasone (January 5, 1649, considered most popular of all Cavalli's operas)
  • L'Euripo (1649, music lost)
  • L'Orimonte (1650)
  • L'Oristeo (1651)
  • La Rosinda (1651)
  • La Calisto (1652)
  • L'Eritrea (1652)
  • Il Delio (La Veremonda, l'amazzone di Aragona) (1652)
  • L'Orione (1653)
  • Il Ciro (1654)
  • L'Hipermestra (L'Ipermestra) (1654)
  • Il Xerse (1655)
  • L'Erismena (1655)
  • La Statira (Statira principessa di Persia) (January 18 1655)
  • L'Artemisia (1657)
  • Impermnestra (June 12, 1658)
  • L'Antioco (1659, music lost)
  • Il rapimento d'Helena (Elena) (1659)
  • L'Ercole (Ercole amante) (February 7, 1662)
  • Scipione affricano (1664)
  • Mutio Scevola (Muzio Scevola) (1665)
  • Il Pompeo Magno (1666)
  • L'Eliogabalo (1667)
  • Coriolano (1669, music lost)
  • Massenzio (1673, music lost)

References and further reading

  • Bukofzer, Manfred. Music in the Baroque Era. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1947. ISBN 0393097455
  • Glixon, Beth L., and Jonathan E. Glixon. Inventing the business of opera: the impresario and his world in seventeenth-century Venice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 0195154169
  • Glover, Jane. Cavalli. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1978. ISBN 0312125461
  • Rosand, Ellen. Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. ISBN 0520068084
  • Selfridge-Field, Eleanor. Venetian Instrumental Music, from Gabrieli to Vivaldi. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. ISBN 0486281515

External links

All links retrieved November 23, 2022.


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