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Philippe Jaroussky Countertenor
Valer Sabadus Countertenor
Christina Pluhar Theorbo and musical conductor
No 17th century Italian composer had been as successful as Luigi Rossi, composer, harpist, luth player, singer and organist.
After studying with Giovanni de Macques in Naples, Luigi Rossi went to Rome in 1614. He entered the Borghese family's service and became organist at San Luigi dei Francesi. In 1635, he went to Florence at the invitation Ferdinando II Medici and spent several years there. The focus point of musical life in Rome in Luigi Rossi’s time was the Barberini family, they gave composers’ creativity the possibility of flourishing. The key figures of this dynasty were Pope Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini) and his nephews Francesco and cardinal Antonio Barberini, making Palazzo Barberini and its theatre the main stage for Roman opera. They ordered masses, oratorios and operas performed at the period of carnival, weddings, political events, coronations or important official visits. Luigi Rossi was engaged by cardinal Antonio Barberini to put to music a libretto by Giulio Rospigliosi: Palazzo incantato (1642), inspired by the Orlando Furioso, which met with great success at the 1642 carnival. The most famous castrati of the time, Marc’Antonio Pasqualini, Mario Savioni and Loreto Vittori, took part in the performances, hundreds of machines, decorators and technicians turned this work into an “event-performance” lasting seven hours.
The Barberini dynasty ended suddenly at the death of pope Urban VIII, when the new pope discovered that the Vatican’s official funds were misappropriated by the Barberini family to finance their spectacles… Which compelled the Barberinis to choose Parisian exile in 1645. They brought with them some of their musicians, Marco Marazzoli, the famous singer Leonora Baroni, castrati Atto Melani and Mario Savioni, friends, colleagues and performers of Luigi Rossi’s cantatas. At Mazarin’s request, on the recommendation of cardinal Barberini, Rossi came to Paris at the end of summer 1646. Cardinal Mazarin’s musical patronage is one of the high points of his ambitious policy including all art forms, aiming to introduce Italian taste in France. From then on, he would not cease to look for artists capable of introducing Italian opera in France: Rossi’s Orfeo, on a libretto by Francesco Buti, would be one of the most ambitious productions in this plan. The project is based on two precious manuscripts offered to Anne of Austria, kept at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. They contain about a hundred Italian cantatas, mostly composed by Luigi Rossi. The two books are decorated with the Barberini family's coat of arms and are evidence of the execution of Italian vocal music by Italian and French singers.
Philippe Jaroussky and Valer Sabadus
The first castrati in Paris
Luigi Rossi (1597-1653) at the court of France
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