Tortuous Roads. Tracing Back the Reception Paths of Apostolo Zeno's Libretto Venceslao (1703–1754)*

Anna Ryszka-Komarnicka
2021 Musicology Today  
During the fifty years that mark the historical reception of Apostolo Zeno's libretto Venceslao (1703–1754), no less than forty-two opera productions based on this text were staged throughout Europe. In most cases, these performances are documented in the form of printed libretti. As far as I was able to establish, the text of Venceslao was reproduced verbatim only once: the Kraków print of 1725 is identical with the Venetian one of 1722. Otherwise, Zeno's Venceslao was subjected to constant
more » ... nges; new elements were appearing in the successive versions along with older ones, which led to the emergence of sui generis literary pasticci. I have attempted to single out the versions which were crucial for Venceslao's reception and determined its stages of development: 1. the Milan edition (1705/06), based on the Venetian editio princeps (1703) and the Florentine variant (1703/04); 2. the Neapolitan edition (1714/15) based on the Florentine version and, indirectly, on the Milanese one as well, 3. Domenico Lalli's edition from Venice (1722); 4. The Turin-Prague version (1720/21–1725/26), which provided the lifeblood for later Venceslao operatic productions by the Mingottis' troupe in Graz, Linz, Hamburg, and Copenhagen in the late 1730s and 40s. Subsequently, I have outlined the key characteristics of several unusual late Venceslao versions from Florence, Venice, and Genoa. Finally, I have distinguished two main phases in Venceslao's reception. The first, incorporating the first three stages, lasted till the late 1720s / early 1730s. It was characterised by strong interconnections between the successive Venceslao versions. The new editions were built on the principle of continuous elimination and accumulation of elements taken from earlier variants, mixed with new ones. The second phase, from the 1730s onwards, was characterised by loose interconnections, especially on the level of so-called numbers (arias and ensembles). It seems that Zeno's own original versions definitely played a minor role in Venceslao's reception on European stages as compared with editions prepared by third parties.
doi:10.2478/muso-2021-0013 fatcat:uzy2g46jpjb6zec52afh623p3y