Personalities | Francesco Silvani | Late Baroque | Opera
c. 1660–c. 1728–44, Italian
Little is known about Silvani’s life, but he was an abbot who issued his earliest works under the anagram Frencasco Valsini. Silvani regularly produced libretti for Venice between 1691 and 1716, and the title pages of the printed wordbooks state that he served the Duke of Mantua between 1699 and 1705. Silvani identified with the ‘reform’ librettists such as Zeno and Pariati, and his texts feature clearly motivated plots, elevated language and extensive recitatives. He occasionally based his libretti on literary sources such as Tasso, Seneca and Corneille. Silvani was sensitive to accusations of plagiarism, and he did not include his name on the title page of libretti that had been collaborations with other writers. During an age when the literary credibility of librettists was often questioned, Silvani was esteemed enough to have a collection of 24 libretti published posthumously.
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