Music in Art: International Journal for Music Iconography XL (2015)

   

Maria Teresa Arfini (Università della Valle d’Aosta), Around Antigone: The Iconography and Music in the German Revival of the Classical Tragedy.

In October 1841 Sophocles’s Antigone was staged with a great success in the Greek theater of Sanssouci in Potsdam. Although not the earliest such representation of a classical tragedy in Germany, it was a pioneering performance because the king Frederick Wilhelm IV entrusted Ludwig Tieck to organize a production of the play without cuts in the text and with its accurate translation. Tieck involved himself in the matter, following in particular the study Das Theater zu Athen (1818) by the archaeologist and architect Hans Christian Genelli (1763–1823), who was personally known to him. Genelli described the Dionysian theater of Athens according to De architectura of Vitruvio, because its archaeological excavations would be made by Wilhelm Dörpfeld only later, between 1882 and 1895.
The theater building, the scenery and the costumes for the performance of Antigone were prepared according to the most recent archaeological understanding of the classical drama. The most faithful to the ancient models was the scenography, costumes, and stage decorations designed by Johann Karl Jacob Gerst (1792– 1854). Johann Jacob Christian Donner (1799–1875) in his translation of the play took certain semantic liberties but he was the first translator in Germany who followed the original metrics of the Greek text. The musical setting by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy was however a problem, since mid-nineteenth-century scholars only knew what parts of the tragedy had to be set to music and what kind of musical style should have been adopted. Therefore, Mendelssohn decided to write the instrumental parts in the modern setting, using limited means, and to harmonize the chorus in four parts, with rhythmic uniformity. The unison recitatives and the melodramas that are found at the end of many stasima are the only exceptions.

Jordi Ballester (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Music and Poetics of Ancient Rome in the Work of the Spanish Painter Mariano Fortuny.

Mariano Fortuny i Marsal (1838–1874) is among the most relevant Catalan painters of the second half of the nineteenth century. Art historians usually underline his history paintings, his depictions of contemporary life based on the neoclassical tradition, his colorful landscapes, and especially the importance of his works related to orientalist topics. Many of these orientalist paintings contain references to music and some of them have been studied from a musicological point of view.
Fortuny was also interested in the ancient Greco-Roman culture: he lived part of his life in Rome and around Naples, where he was inspired by the atmosphere of the ancient Roman ruins. Thus, least two of Fortuny’s works can be located within the artistic nineteenth-century stream that offers a new vision of music and poetics of antiquity. Both of them are titled Idilio (Idyll), which literally means a poem or prose work describing an idealized rural life, pastoral scenes. One of these works was several times reproduced by Fortuny himself in drawing, engraving and watercolor painting.
Many of Fortuny’s works were produced for a commercial market, and they were also models and source of inspiration for later artists. His poetic image of Idyll was taken around 1900 by the German photographer settled in Italy, Wilhelm (Guglielmo) Plüschow (1852–1930) as a model for some of his works. Honoré Daumier (1808–1879) used Idyll as a model for his lithograph La Paix, Idylle, published in the magazine Le Charivari (March 1871). The Catalan illustrator, painter and writer Alexandre de Riquer (1856 –1920) produced at the beginning of the twentieth century an ex libris illustration on the basis of Fortuny’s Idyll.

Stephen A. Bergquist (Boston), Musical Images in the Recueil Jullienne.

After the death of Antoine Watteau in 1721, his friend and patron, Jean de Jullienne (1686–1766), a manufacturer, who owned a large collection of Watteau’s works, commissioned a number of etchers and engravers to produce prints after all of Watteau’s known paintings and drawings. These prints, more than six hundred altogether, were published in a series of four folio albums from 1726 to 1735, known as the Recueil Jullienne, which is one of the most magnificent compilations of its kind ever produced. The first two albums are after Watteau’s drawings, and the last two after his paintings. Watteau loved music; he was reportedly a good judge of music, and he had the opportunity to attend many concerts at the home of his patron, the wealthy banker Pierre Crozat (1665–1740). Many of Watteau’s paintings and drawings are of musical subjects. He painted numerous fêtes galantes, scenes of courtship, which often show suitors playing a musical instrument, generally the guitar or the flute, and he painted many scenes ofcommedia dell’arte characters, which often have a musical theme. One of the most famous prints in the Recueil Jullienne is a double portrait of Watteau and Jullienne, which served as the frontispiece to the albums after the paintings, showing Watteau at his easel and Jullienne playing the viola da gamba. Among the artists commissioned to produce etchings after Watteau’s drawings was the young François Boucher (1703–1770), who contributed 105 prints to the first two volumes of the Recueil, including The Guitar Player, a courtship scene which, like all of Boucher’s contributions to the Recueil, captures the lightness and delicacy of Watteau’s drawing style. One of the most attractive musical portrait prints ever published is Jean Moyreau’s portrait of Jean-Féry Rebel, after a drawing done by Watteau in the last year of his life.

Maria Ida Biggi (Centro studi per la ricerca documentale sul teatro e il melodramma Europeo, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice), Borsato, Bagnara and Basoli: Archaeological References and Reverberations on the Venetian and Bolognese Neoclassical Stages.

In the first thirty years of the nineteenth century, many theater and opera set designers made references in their stagings to Roman, Egyptian, and Eastern antiquity. Giuseppe Borsato (1771–1849) and Francesco Bagnara (1784–1866) in the Venetian context, and Antonio Basoli (1774–1848) and his school in the Bolognese one, become important examples of this high-end form of entertainment but also of visual and decorative arts in general. They emphasized in their sets verisimilitude and adherence to the historical styles, which were combined with the experimentations and the application of the neoclassical principles. The images of ancient places they borrowed from sources available in art libraries of their cities.
Borsato, Bagnara and Basoli all made attempts to preserve their art, and each of these artists followed a specific procedures to do that. Borsato created sketches for the set drawings mainly as monochrome sepia, Bagnara created commemorative drawings reproducing in sequence all scene changes of the performance, and Basoli, starting from quick sketches, created elaborate prints, which were collected in volumes dedicated to his whole theatrical production.
Borsato’s stagings produced for La Fenice in Venice between 1810 and 1820 included the balletIl trionfo di Trajano (Gaetano Gioia, 1812) and the opera Le Donaidi romane (libretto by Antonio Sografi, music by Stefano Pavesi, 1816). From 1820 to 1830, his successor Bagnara created sets for the operas L’ultimo giorno di Pompei (libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola, music by Giovanni Pacini, 1832); Belisario (libretto by Salvatore Cammarano, music by Gaetano Donizetti, 1836); and L’assedio di Corinoto (libretto by Giuseppe Luigi Balloco and Alexandre Soumet, music by Gioacchino Rossini, 1829). Between 1810 and 1820, in Bologna, Basoli and his students produced sets for the operas La vestale (libretto by Luigi Romanelli, music by Vincenzo Pucitta, 1820), and Semiramide riconosciuta (libretto by Gaetano Rossi, music by Giacomo Meyerbeer, 1820).

Diana Blichmann (Rome), The Temple of Jupiter Stator in La clemenza di Tito by Pietro Metastasio.

In the cult of the ancient Romans, the divinity Jupiter Stator belongs to the most ancient traditions of the Urbe. In the age of Romulus this god would have stopped (“stator” means “he who is firm”) the retreat of the Romans, and prevent the Sabinis to penetrate in the Palatium. The legend says that Romulus promised to build in the Roman Forum a temple dedicated to Jupiter, if he had succeeded in arresting the enemies. After the victory, Romulus would have built this temple at the feet of the Palatine. A sacred place to Jupiter Stator undoubtedly existed on the site and a temple to him was dedicated there in 294 bc, after a victory on the Sannitis, by the consul M. Attilio Regolo.
While it has been thought that the temple rose on the slopes of the Velia, the hill facing the Palatine, the recent archaeological investigations indicated with relative certainty that the place of the first cult of Jupiter Statore was on the Palatine in a context of meaningful monuments for the most ancient history in the city.
The librettist Pietro Metastasio (1698–1782) knew of the existence of the Temple of Jupiter Stator thanks to his solid classical education: Ancient literary sources (Publio Ovidio Nasone, Tristia) and epigraphic sources (relief of the tomb of the Hateriis) confirm the location and the representation of the Aedes Iovis Statoris. Metastasio, not by chance, conceived in La Clemenza di Tito a sequence of scenes that develop in the “Atrium of the Temple of Jupiter Stator”, from which is seen the Capitol with cordonata. The opera was staged in 1755 in Lisbon with the music by Antonio Caldara (1670–1736) and scenography by Giovanni Carlo Galli Bibiena (1717–1760), and in 1760 in Turin with the music by Baldassare Galuppi (1706–1785) and scenography by Fabrizio Galliari (1709– 1790). The libretto printed for the 1755 production includes an etching of Galli Bibiena’s scenography, by Jean Baptiste Dourneau.

Francesca Cannella (Università del Salento), “The Heroes of the Fabulous History and the Inventions Ennobled by Them”: The Myth of the Argonauts between Visual Sources and Literary inventio.

The saga about Argonauts is one of the most fascinating stories offered by Greek mythology. Their adventurous events described by Apollonius of Rhodes were repeatedly explored by Greek and Roman poets and mythographers, and in its different articulations the theme reappeared in the figurative arts in a discontinuous way from the late Middle Ages up to the dawn of the nineteenth century. Regarding their musical attributes, the testimonies expressed by Hyginus inFabulae (14–23) and De astronomia (294– 343) propose a comparison between the classical iconography identifying some of the protagonists of the expedition to Colchis and the original perspective related to the modern revival of this myth, inspiring the reflections of authoritative theorists and treatises.
The peculiar vision disclosed on the pages written by Francesco Bianchini (1662–1729), Giambattista Martini (1706–1784), or Rinaldo Carli (1720–1795), where it became a prestigious and effective didactic tool regarding the symbols conventionally defining the heroes, among which often dominates the lyre. This symbol is presented as a tangible proof of the authority of the characters related to it. Beginning with the epic ship Argo, they balance between the figures represented in the celestial constellations and the archetypal abstractions offered by philosophical concepts of Time and History.
Celestial constellations constitute a catalogue of the archaic episodes, and a tangible evidence of the legendary events described in ancient sources, becoming over the centuries emblems connected both to the narration of the history events and to the superimposition of mythical characters.

Paola D’Alconzo (Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II), Facing Antiquity, Back and Forth, in Eighteenth-Century Naples.

In the eighteenth century, the Kingdom of Naples—where began the great archaeological excavations of the ancient cities of Herculaneum, Pompeii and Stabiae—missed the opportunity to become a center for the dissemination of neoclassical style. In their place of origin, the models made available by the finds that emerged from the excavations in the Vesuvian area encountered a reception and development that were not only surprisingly late, but after having pervaded large swathes of Europe. The aim here is to refocus attention on an incontrovertible fact, by taking the opportunity to explore the reasons for it.
A number of factors contributed to determining a kind of Neapolitan paradox. On the one hand, Naples was a real centrifugal focal point for the dissemination of classical models across Europe, which had tangible effects on both the figurative and decorative arts. On the other hand, those same stimuli, with all the fruits that they could bear, were not assimilated and developed locally early on, and it was only in the 1790s, often in further derived forms, that they were brought back, “on the rebound”, when it was finally realized that the same ideas had been elsewhere already received and developed, while at home they had ended up by leaving no trace.
In this context, even expensive and sometimes superb works —like the publication of Le antichità di Ercolano esposte (1757–1792), or the production of similar subjects by the Real Fabbrica della Porcellana—do not seem to have met with a genuine interest for the antique, or appreciation of an aesthetic nature, nor the desire to encourage local artistic production, thus it was not possible to completely conceal their subtly instrumental reasons.
An ill-conceived reason of State; the inability to recognize the impact that the excavations might have on promoting not only antiquarian studies but also contemporary artistic production; not listening to certain advisers who were more mindful and far-sighted: all these elements led to that discrepancy that has been mentioned, and the result was almost the opposite of what could have been achieved. Through wider and more accessible channels, the interest in the antiquity found the means to materialize in an artistic imaginary far from the places whence it drew most of its elements of inspiration, while until the 1790s the Kingdom of Naples remained excluded from it.

Elena Ferrari Barassi (Milan), Iconography of Iconography: Dance in Ancient Roman Representations, Canova’s Works and Their Reproductions in Engravings.

During the 1800s Antonio Canova was occupied with the work on several variants of a female dancer: Dancer with Hands on Hips (ca. 1802; 1811–1812), Dancer with Finger on Chin (1809), and Dancer with Cymbals (1809–1812). Canova has approached this subject already in the 1790s in several colored tempera on paper, which were later reproduced in engravings (1809–1814) by Luigi Cunego and Pietro Fontana. To these works is also related a marble statue of the gods’ cupbearer Hebe (1800–1805), bearing a jug in one hand and a cup in the other. Although this girl is not dancing, her light flying-like attitude shows all the same a certain dance allure.
Canova was inspired for these works by classical art, especially the artworks excavated in Pompeii and Herculaneum, which he had available reproduced in engravings in the volumes of Le antichità di Ercolano esposte. I-IV: Le pitture antiche d’Ercolano (Naples, 1757–1779). In the first volume is reproduced a group of images from the so-called Cicero’s Villa in Pompeii, showing nine maenads. Six of them are seen dancing, one of them with cymbals and another with a frame drum; moreover another maenad bears a jug and a plate with figs, as ritual objects for Dionysos’s (Bacchus’s) cult. The jug is surprisingly similar to the one kept in hand by Hebe. Two further reproductions in the second volume of Le antichità show a Coro di Baccanti, women and men performing a Dionysos’s (Bacchus’s) rite. Among them a woman is keeping a jug and a plate as above, and another is dancing with cymbals, accompanying this time with the sound of a double tibia, a frame drum and a lyre. Canova produced his dancers and his Hebe on the basis of these ancient paintings and their contemporary reproductions, keeping sometime the form but changing the substance.

Timothy S. Flynn (Olivet College), The Classical Reverberations in the Music and Life of Camille Saint-Saëns.

During his lengthy and well-established career, Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921) consistently turned to classical antiquity for inspiration, whether for his operas, instrumental music, or literary essays. His earliest impressions of classical antiquity Saint-Saëns had during his first trip to Rome in 1857, and his interest escalated during his visits to the Paris Expositions Universelles of 1867 and 1878. In his essay “Note sur les décors de théâtre dans l’antiquité romaine” (1886) Saint-Saëns addressed artworks and ornaments from Pompeii which he observed as idealized reproductions of the theater decorations from the Roman period. In his “Essai sur les lyres et cithara antiques” (1902), also based on research of visual sources, he addressed the issues of the construction of lyre and kithara and performance practice. Antiquity also inspired him in his dramatic musical productions, such as Déjanire (1898) and Parysatis (1902), which were both performed at the Béziers Festival in the south of France.

Alexandra Goulaki-Voutyra (Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης), Ingres: Apollo, Mozart and Music.

Two drawings by Ingres, dated 1863–64, are closely related to music; Apollo Crowns Gluck and Mozart, a preparatory sketch for a painting never completed, and King Midas and His Barber, both at the Musée du Louvre. The two sketches are connected to each other, as the latter is incorporated in the former. By using the ancient myth of musical contest Ingres criticized leading art contemporaries with whom he came in conflict. Examining handwritten notes on the first drawing, it is possible to observe Ingres’s close relation to music, as well as elements concerning contemporary music life; his preference for Cherubini, Mozart, and Mehul.

Anna Maria Ioannoni Fiore (Conservatorio Statale di Musica “L. D’Annunzio”, Pescara), Neoclassical Influences in the Depictions of Landscapes on Castelli Maioliche: The Ethical Quality of Music among Myths and Ancient Ruins.

The production of maioliche in Castelli, a central-Italian village located at the feet of the majestic chain of Gran Sasso, preserves a century-old tradition and a qualitative refinement for which it is famous worldwide. Home decor accessories such as vases, tondos and ornamental tiles, or tools used daily such as plates, cups, trays and other pieces of kitchenware gained preciousness thanks to their beautiful decorations and the artistic craftsmanship of their authors.
The workshops of the Grue, Gentili, Cappelletti and Fuina families—only to mention the most prominent representatives— produced a variety of objects decorated with the typical motifs handed down from generation to generation. The depiction of landscapes among them stands out: the mountain, pastoral and bucolic environment surrounding Castelli represents the identity of the community that lives and works in it. In the eighteenth century, landscape decorations were exalted by the inclusion of mythological figures: accepting the neoclassical influences of the coeval art and adopting the technique of pouncing, that allows to transfer well-known images from one surface to rough ceramic, artists from Castelli added symbolic elements such as those represented in the mythological scenes of Apollo and Marsyas, Orpheus and Eurydice, Pan, Mercury and Argus. Thanks to this new awareness, the traditional rural settings usually inhabited by peasants, river fishermen and shepherds, became the typical representation of the locus amoenus par excellence, where gentle male and female characters, among the majestic ruins recalling the past Roman greatness, were depicted while performing the noble art of music, enjoying the same otium that putti also like to indulge in.

John Z. McKey (University of South Carolina School of Music), Musical Curiosities in Athanasius Kircher’s Antiquarian Visions.

Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680) was the author of some forty treatises dealing with a variety of topics. But in the Jubilee Year of 1650, in the midst of his rise to fame, he chose to publish his 1200-page Musurgia universalis along with the more focused Obeliscus Pamphilius. The former was an encyclopedia on all aspects of music, while the latter celebrated the Egyptian obelisk that had been newly erected by Innocent X Pamphilj in Piazza Navona. The Obeliscus would quickly be followed by the 2000-page Oedipus Aegyptiacus (1652–1654), Kircher’s exhaustive study of many ancient cultures, his only treatise to exceed the Musurgia in size and scope. The combination of these two immense treatises on music and antiquities cemented Kircher’s international reputation. Around the same time, the collections of the Museum Kircherianum were first organized and granted their own space, housing an unparalleled collection of antiquities juxtaposed against Kircher’s musical devices, including many musical instruments and machines of his own invention. It is therefore not surprising to find combinations of these strands everywhere in Kircher’s treatises, which would serve as inspiration for generations of scholars and collectors. The paper discusses Kircher’s reports concerning ancient music, as well as his tendency to bring structural aspects of ancient music into his own modern designs, including: (1) A plan for a theater based on ideas from Vitruvius, containing bells that resonated according to both laws of ancient Greek scales and modern tunings. (2) The arca musurgica, a machine that could be used to generate modern four-part musical settings of texts set in a variety of ancient poetic meters. (3) A hydraulic organ, which animated figures of the Pythagorean blacksmiths while playing a song representing structural aspects of Greek harmonic systems.

Donatella Melini (Fondazione Antonio Carlo Monzino, Milan), “Or che i Numi son vinti, a me la cetra, a me l’altar!”: Kithara Constructed for the Premiere of Arrigo Boito’s Nerone.

Although Boito had been devoting to the composition of his Nerone fifty-six years, at his death in 1918 the opera was still incomplete. So Arturo Toscanini bustled to refine and finish the last act of the work for the opera’s premiere at La Scala on 1 May 1924. Boito’s long work on the opera is documented by a great amount of sketches, notes concerning the bibliography, scenography and tooling projects, as well as sketches of libretto and music held at the Boito Archive at the Conservatorio di Musica Arrigo Boito of Parma and in the Archivio Storico Ricordi in Milan.
The figure of the mad psychopath Nero is best remembered in the collective imagination as he plays and sings observing the fire of Rome. Therefore, for the first staging of the opera, a true kithara was made by the lute maker Piero Parravicini (1889–1957) at the Milan workshop of Antonio Monzino e figli, which is today on display at the Museo degli Strumenti Musicali in Milan, within the Monzino Collection.
The construction of the instrument is analyzed on the basis of historical documents held at the Parma Conservatory, the Ricordi Archive, and archives of the Antonio Carlo Monzino Foundation, in order to identify its historical and iconographic models and the construction choices that Parravicini made in the 1920s, when the application of philological studies in the field of lutherie was still unusual.

Laura Moretti (University of St Andrews), L’immagine della musica nello «studio» del palazzo veronese di Mario Bevilacqua (1536–1593) [The images of music in studio of the palace of Mario Bevilacqua (1536–1593) in Verona].

Mario Bevilacqua was one of the most important collectors and patrons of literature and the arts of his time. He was born in Verona on 8 October 1536 to Gregorio and Giulia di Canossa, niece of Girolamo Canossa, an important Veronese collector. Bevilaqua grew up in a cultured and refined environment. He studied law at Bologna, where he graduated in 1567. He then returned to Verona, and settled in the family palace, on the current Corso Cavour. In the years that followed Bevilacqua transformed his residence into a place suitable for his collections of works of art, books, musical instruments, and rare and precious objects. The surviving documents highlight the relationship which Bevilacqua established between objects and the architectural space in his residence, particular apparent in the four rooms on the first floor of the building, which assumed a recognized public function. The paper is completed by the analysis of two objects placed in one of these rooms— a musical instrument (“lauto d’hebano”) and a painting of a lute player attributed to Giorgione (“Zorzon del lauto grande”)—their mutual relationship and the one with the environment in which they were placed. This objects are representative of the way in which Bevilacqua considered and displayed his collections.

Gabriella Olivero (Turin), The “New” Babylon by Alessandro Sanquirico.

Alessandro Sanquirico (1777–1849) described his scenographies for Ciro in Babilonia (Rossini, 1818) and Semiramide (Rossini, 1823) as “del tutto nuove” and his judgment was shared by Hayez and Stendhal. This makes it interesting to analyze what was truly new in the representation of these subjects that had been put on stage hundreds of times before and compare them with the visionary drawings of Babylonia by another Italian painter, interior designer, and engraver Antonio Basoli (1774–1848). (There are more than sixty librettos dealing with Semiramide only.) In the first years of the nineteenth century archaeological excavations were still at their beginnings (Fresnel and Oppert began Babylonia’s digs in 1852 although Grotefend was studying cuneiform writing since 1802). However, Sanquirico was working with Robustiano Geroni, director of the Brera Library, and with Giulio Ferrario, what gave him an access to the new (as well as ancient) studies on Assyrian and Babylonian lands and he used them as a basis for his representations of all places referring to Babylonia: the tower, the city wall, the gate and the gardens. When lacking explicit references to existing monuments, he would turn to other sources (Egypt), or he would use symbolic images (the elephants), to remind opera lovers that the plot was set in Mesopotamia.

Gaudenzio Ragazzi (Esine, Brescia), Interpreting the Prehistoric Visual Sources for Dance.

The most ancient documents of dance include images produced in varied techniques (painting, engraving, graffito) on a broad types of supports (rock, ceramics, wood, metal). Given the particular nature of documents, in the research on the origins of dance, the ethnochoreutic competence is subordinated to the iconographic competence, at least initially. The language of the prehistoric images is highly formalized; it expresses the limits imposed by rituality to the rules of communication. The archaic mentality confers a sacred value to the support of the representation, which has cosmological nature, and every act represented on it—a gesture, a dance, a moment of ploughing—is supported by a mechanism which produces perpetually of the effects for which the image was produced.

Cristina Santarelli (Istituto per i Beni Musicali in Piemonte, Turin), From A Musician to A Quartet: Albert Moore between Classicism and Aesthetic Movement.

Born in 1841, Albert Joseph Moore came from an artistic family based in York. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools from 1857 and like many artists of his generation was deeply influenced by Pre-Raphaelite Movement. In the mid-1860s his friendship with James McNeill Whistler and William Leighton transformed his art; from that time he began to produce decorative works that mostly show rhythmically posed figures in diaphanous classical draperies, combined with ornamental accessories. Moore was an advocate of the late Victorian idea of “art for art’s sake”, the concept that formal and aesthetic qualities must take prominence over moral or narrative content: although greatly influenced by Greek sculpture as well as by Japanese prints, his paintings—unlike those by Alma-Tadema—are not historical reconstructions, but merely pretexts for the exploration of an abstract language of color, line and pattern, according to the ideas expressed in the same years by Walter Pater and Oscar Wilde.
In particular, A Musician (1865–1866) and A Quartet: A Painter’s Tribute to the Art of Music(1868) seem to be a pictorial anticipation of Pater’s theories about the supremacy of music among the arts. The first one is clearly based on ancient models, with direct quotations from the eastern pediment of the Parthenon and from an Herculanean fresco illustrating a music lesson (The British Museum), while the setting of the second one includes anachronistic objects such as the instruments of a modern string quartet instead of the archaic lyre depicted in the previous painting. Led more by fascination with ideal geometry than by philological rigor, Moore determined a basic arrangement in which the simple horizontal band of the shelf contrasts with the irregular curves of human bodies and then added a series of strong diagonals created by the bows and necks of the string instruments and the arms and legs of the figures. The four solemn looking musicians seated in a straight line and the three standing female listeners, though dressed in Greek style and disposed like a bas-relief frieze, are generic embodiments of universal harmony and beauty: the positioning of the figures, the smooth palette, the placement of accessories and the distribution of the drapery folds, wall hangings and architectural elements reach the aim of make visible the music lying under the forms.

Mercedes Viale Ferrero (Turin), L’ultimo giorno di Pompei nell’immaginazione di Alessandro Sanquirico (ovvero: Come ricostruire una città per poterla distruggere) [L’ultimo giorno di Pompeiimagined by Alessandro Sanquirico, or How to rebuild Pompeii in order to destroy it].

L’ultimo giorno di Pompei is a dramma per musica first performed at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, on 19 November 1825. The libretto was written by Andrea Leone Tottola, the music was composed by Giovanni Pacini, and the stage sets were painted by three artists directed by the “architect of the Royal Theaters”, Antonio Niccolini. The reception was moderately good but in fall 1827, when the opera was presented in the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, with a new scenic realization by Alessandro Sanquirico, its success was extraordinary and nearly fanatic. The audience was impressed by the final scene reviving the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii in AD 79: a technical achievement based on the phenomenon of the persistence of vision in the eye. As a consequence of this striking and almost magic apparition, very little notice was given to what happened before it and was possibly even more daring. In order to destroy it, Sanquirico had to rebuild Pompeii and to depict houses, temples, gardens, theaters, streets and forum as he imagined they were during a busy day in the Roman Empire. We can see them now, reproduced in two series of colored engravings showing also the characters and their costumes. Some questions arise: has Sanquirico aimed to achieve a classical or a picturesque result? Were there many differences between the performances at the Teatro di San Carlo and the Teatro alla Scala? Were the visual effects linked (or not linked) to the dramatic action? Is the opera correlated to the taste and the principles of Restoration?

Yang Yuanzheng / 楊元錚 (The University of Hong Kong), Finding the Key: Tuning Keys Discovered from the Imperial Collection of Emperor Huizong (r. 1100–1126).

Discovery and identification of the function of tuning keys from the Chinese late Bronze Age and the Han dynasty (206 BC–AD 220) was made by archaeologists during excavation of the tomb of Zhao Mo (趙昧; ca. 162 BC–ca. 122 BC), the second King of Nanyue, in 1983. However, collection of exquisite objects of this kind as artifacts in themselves first began much before this discovery. Iconographical evidence preserved in imperial catalogue of ancient bronzes by Emperor Huizong (徽宗; 1082–1135, r. 1100–1126), documents that Chinese started to collect tuning keys as treasured objet d’art as early as the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127), at least eight centuries earlier than their true function was ascertained by modern archaeologists. Misidentification of the tuning keys as cane handles in Huizong’s catalogue is more than simply an oversight of an Emperor or the compilers of the catalogue, and may be symbolic of a fundamental political and cultural Zeitgeist.