Personalities | Antonio Cesti | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera
Musically speaking, Florentine composer Antonio Cesti led a double life. He wrote operas for the Venetian opera houses but also provided music for the courts at Innsbruck and Vienna. Either way, he was involved in basically secular entertainment, despite the fact that he was in holy orders. At age 14, Cesti had joined the Minorite friars, but his roving eye, which ill-suited him for the religious life, was encouraged by his contacts with Venice and the glamorous ducal courts of Austria. A series of scandals and indiscretions led him to resign from the Church in 1659, but earlier he had written Orontea (1649) and Cesare amante (‘Caesar in Love’, 1651) for Venetian audiences. In 1652, Cesti was appointed Kappellmeister to the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Karl and produced several operas, including the most successful, La Dori (‘The Faithful Slave’, 1657). From there, Cesti moved to imperial Vienna, where his most famous opera, Il pomo d’oro (‘The Golden Apple’), was staged in 1668. Another opera, Genserico (1669), is also sometimes attributed to Cesti.
Melodies from the Opera – the Overture
The Florentine composer Antonio Cesti (1623–69) introduced the idea of putting melodies in an opera into its overture, as a kind of ‘trailer’ to the music that was to come and to set the mood. He first did this in his famous Il pomo d’oro (‘The Golden Apple’, 1668).
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