Techniques | Pasticcio Opera | Classical Era | Opera
The eighteenth-century pasticcio, a rather uncomplimentary term meaning ‘hotch-potch’, was an opera written by several composers. One example was Muzio Scevola (1721), which was based on the story of an early Roman hero who burned his hand to ashes in a fire rather than assist the Etruscan enemies of Rome. Filippo Amadei, Giovanni Bononcini (1670–1747) and George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) composed one act each, in that order. Normally, though, the pasticcio did not result from such a neat division of labour. It was more of an assembly of choruses, airs, dances and other music taken from various composers. A pasticcio could start out as a conventional opera but then acquire extra text or music or arias grafted onto it from other works by other composers. Although this appears to justify the description of ‘hotch-potch’, the additions were carefully selected from items that had already proved their popularity in performance, so that the pasticcio could be said to represent an eighteenth-century version of a modern music show. The pasticcio proved extremely popular, especially in mid-eighteenth century London, and some highly respected operas, including Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice were first seen there as pasticcios rather than in their proper form.
Introduction | Classical Era | Opera
Techniques | Singspiel | Classical Era | Opera
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